Do you ever get pain during and after training along the shin bone?
This pain can run anywhere between the knee and ankle, it sometimes causes swelling or tightness, it can start of as a niggle and develop into extreme pain. This condition is called "Shin Splints" and can affect anyone from beginners to endurance athletes. If left untreated, it can cause stress fractures to the shin bone.
What factors cause shin splints?
- Overtraining as in training too hard without adequate time to recover
- Increase in training duration and intensity
- Change in running surfaces
- Being overweight or increase in body weight
- Bone health
- Having flat feet or feet that roll in
- Tightness in the calf muscles and ankle joint
- Shoes that are not correct
What Muscles are affected?
- Gastrocnemius and Soleus make up the calf muscles and their function is to point the foot forward and apply pressure to the ground in order to push. Now If these muscles are weak or lack flexibility and can't handle the excessive load then the shins will bear the brunt.
- Anterior Tibialis muscle is located in the front bottom part of the leg, running along the front part of the shin bone. It aids in flexing the foot or bringing the toes toward the head. This muscle is used to flex the foot with every step.
- Posterior Tibialis is also on the bottom front of the leg, running along the back part of the shin bone. It helps pull the foot down and inward. Overuse or repetitive use of the shin area can cause this muscle and the attached tendons to become inflamed.
How can I treat shin splint and avoid them from happening again?
My first recommendation is to seek the advice of a professional practitioner i.e. Chiropractor or Physiotherapist. Work closely with them to identify weaknesses in the lower body, find the cause and treat the symptoms primarily and then work on strengthening the arch of the foot and the muscles that make up the calf.
Rest and stretching will go a long way to getting you back on track. Stretching will increase flexibility and will help when strengthening the calf and foot to distribute the load evenly when under tension.
Incorporating rest days more frequently along with trying alternative low impact exercises will help you maintain your fitness levels whilst not being a burden on your shins.
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