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sfgal's avatar

Should I see a physical therapist, massage therapist, or sports-medicine specialist?

Asked by sfgal (283points) September 25th, 2007

I’m young, healthy, and relatively active. Until this year, however, my physical activity was mostly just lots of walking…But for my new years’ resolution I joined a gym and have spent the past year getting in shape. I run 3 miles three times a week and do other cardio (bike, stairs, etc). However, I feel like my body is still not adjusted to this major lifestyle change. Specifically, my knees seem to be rebelling against me, I get occaisional shin splints, etc. I’ll take a break from working out for a week and it gets better, but as soon as I go back to regular workouts the knee pain comes back, even with low-impact activities like biking. What kind of specialist could I consult? I’d like to make sure I’m excercising my muscles evenly, see what I can do to strengthen my knees, etc. The trainers at the gym are no help. Would a massage therapist know how to advise me? Or a different type of expert?

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10 Answers

hearkat's avatar

I would suggest a Physical Therapist that specializes in athletic/sports injuries… it sounds as if you need to be taught the correct form and intensity for the workouts you are choosing. Some massage therapists have knowledge of body mechanics, but that really is the expertise of the PT. Seeing a Physician for Sports Medicine, such as an Orthopedic Dr. or Physiatrist would likely result in referral to a PT. This may result in your insurance covering some of the PT services, so check with your medical carrier to see what they cover and what is required for you to obtain that coverage.

gailcalled's avatar

Hi, sfgal; you were having problems a month ago; stop shilly shallying. Massage therapists will make you feel relaxed and deliciously limp but will not heal an injury. Hearkat’s advice is spot-on. An specialist (MD) may want to do an MRI or x-ray to see what kind of injury you have. Then an experienced PT will know how to treat it…shin splints are a sign of overdoing or simply doing the wrong exercises. Remember this?

Knee Mama Gail has spoken.,

analysis's avatar

Like the other two said, seeing a Sport’s Doctor is key. And from there, he/she will recommend a good Physical Therapist to see. And about shin splints…I played Volleyball in college, and I used to get shin splints all the time. The best thing to do is ice them whenever you are done exercising (whether they hurt or not). And always remember – Stretch, stretch, stretch!!! – before and after exercising.

Another thing, that my trainer taught me, is to pick up marbles with your foot, and place them into a small bowl off to the side of the pile of marbles (without moving your heel). Believe me, it actually works. Hope this helps.

andrew's avatar

It also sounds like you may need to get better fitting shoes… A lot of running injuries have to do with your form and the way in which your feet interact with the ground.

joli's avatar

Andrew is right. It’s all about form and support, but also circulation. I had those pains in my shins years ago from excessive walking and it was due to improper shoes;not enough cushion. As for the knees, perhaps you are weak in this area and need to choose activities that don’t cause stress to your joints, or perhaps you’re not warming up enough? I’ve discovered my limits over the years and adjust my activity accordingly, even stretching can be overdone, or done wrong. A professional can pinpoint what you need to do differently. I’ve learned from them. I’d choose a PT first, then a sports Doc second.

gailcalled's avatar

In NYS, if you want to be covered by insurance, you need a script from an MD in order to see a PT. I gather that sfgal lives in SF. Maybe Arnold had changed the requirements.

joli's avatar

You need a script here as well, in S.F. I found a great place for therapy but don’t have the physician referral to go there.

joli's avatar

And that is for treatment only, not just for the insurance coverage issue. California is so over-regulated but the PT people need to cover their backs in case of an injury lawsuit.

iomar's avatar

change your shoes, that should fix your shins. When you are running or walking try not to run on your toes and dont take long breaks, built muscel on your legs.

jgoose's avatar

i ran track for all of high school, and shin splints were a big problem for me until I listened to the coach when he told us to walk one lap backwards after our warmup laps. you look ridiculous doing it but it really helps to stretch out those muscles that start to hurt and cramp up around the front of your leg. It solved the problem for me within a few days. If they are especially bad, do kind of an exaggerated step when walking backwards- leave your feet on the ground for a little longer than is normal.

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