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Your Body - Lower Leg Pain / Injury / Shin Splints

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a term commonly used to describe any lower leg pain. However, shin splints are only one of several conditions that affect the lower leg. The most common causes of lower leg pain is general shin soreness.

What are Shin Splints?

The main components of the lower leg that are affected by the pain associated with shin splints are:

  • The Tibia and Fibula. These are the two bones in the lower leg. The tibia is situated on the medial, or inside of the lower leg. While the fibula is situated on the lateral, or outside of the lower leg.
  • There are also a large number of the muscles that attach to the tibia and fibula. It's these muscles, when overworked, that pull on the tibia and fibula and cause the pain associated with shin splints.

Specifically, the pain associated with shin splints is a result of fatigue and trauma to the muscle's tendons where they attach themselves to the tibia. In an effort to keep the foot, ankle and lower leg stable, the muscles exert a great force on the tibia. This excessive force can result in the tendons being partially torn away from the bone.

What Causes Shin Splints?

While there are many causes of shin splints, they can all be categorized into two main groups. Overload (or training errors), and Biomechanical Inefficiencies.

Overload (or training errors): Shin splints are commonly associated with sports that require a lot of running or weight bearing activity. However, it is not necessarily the added weight or force applied to the muscles and tendons of the lower leg, but rather the impact force associated with running and weight bearing activities.

In other words, it's not the running itself, but the sudden shock force of repeated landings and change of direction that causes the problem. When the muscles and tendons become fatigued and overloaded, they lose their ability to adequately absorb the damaging shock force.

Other overload causes include:

  • Exercising on hard surfaces, like concrete
  • Exercising on uneven ground
  • Beginning an exercise program after a long lay-off period
  • Increasing exercise intensity or duration too quickly
  • Exercising in worn out or ill fitting shoes... and
  • Excessive uphill or downhill running.

Biomechanical Inefficiencies: The major biomechanical inefficiency contributing to shin splints is that of flat feet. Flat feet lead to a second biomechanical inefficiency called over-pronation. Pronation occurs just after the heal strikes the ground. The foot flattens out, and then continues to roll inward.

Over-pronation occurs when the foot and ankle continue to roll excessively inward. This excessive inward rolling causes the tibia to twist, which in-turn, over stretches the muscles of the lower leg.

Other biomechanical causes include:

  • Poor running mechanics
  • Tight, stiff muscles in the lower leg
  • Running with excessive forward lean
  • Running with excessive backwards lean
  • Landing on the balls of your foot... and
  • Running with your toes pointed outwards.

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Ross can only be described as a miracle worker! After seeing numerous so-called professionals in back care I was recommended to Ross to take a look at my long-term back problem.

Within minutes Ross had diagnosed a muscle twist in my back. For years I had seen physios, GPs, an osteopath and chiropractor, yet known of them attempted to find out the root cause of the problem, instead choosing to 'blindly' treat me.

Once Ross had worked out what was causing my back pain he set about eradicating the twist from my back, which I am pleased to say has since gone. In just a few visits Ross had achieved what I thought was the impossible and what no other back care 'expert' had been able to achieve.

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