Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shin Splints

Ok... here we go... our first educational blog!!!! Many people currently training for a race of some sort have been struggling with shin splints.

Shin splints is a general term used to refer to a painful condition in the shins caused by small tears in the muscles where they connect to the shins. It is often caused by running or jumping, and may be very slow to heal. Shin pain may also be the result of inflammation of connective tissue such as periosteum (periostitis). The pain may be caused by a stress fracture in the bone or some other problem like osteosarcoma. Pain in the lower leg may also be referred from a distant area of the body, such as pressure on the sciatic nerve (sciatica) which lies in the posterior thigh.

Improper pronation of the foot during the footstrike can also cause pain in the muscles which oppose pronation, on the inside or outside of the shin. In proper pronation the foot strikes the ground on the outside of the heel and then rolls toward the inside of the foot approximately 5%. The ideal degree of pronation varies slightly with the individual. It is determined by factors such as the height of the arch (a higher arch has more clearance for pronation than a low arch) and the flexibility of the arch. In over pronation, the foot rolls in too far. The result is that the foot pushes off almost entirely from the big toe, causing excessive strain on the big toe and the outside of the shin. In contrast, under pronation occurs when the foot does not roll enough. This causes the entire weight of the foot strike to concentrate on too small an area on the outside of the foot, which places a corresponding strain on the shin.

Treatment - Form
The long-term remedy for muscle-related pain in the shin is a change in the running style to eliminate the overstriding and heavy heel strike.
Most competitive runners do not strike the ground heel first. Sprinting is performed on the toes, as is middle-distance running. In long-distance running, the footstrike should be flat, though some elite long-distance runners will retain their forefoot strike acquired from years of competing in track-and-field. Look into the book Chi-Running... it is fantastic book which helps all runners with their running form.

Stress on the shin muscles can also be somewhat alleviated by footwear and choice of surface. Runners who strike heavily with the heel should look for shoes which provide ample rearfoot cushioning. Such shoes may be referred to as "stability" or "motion control" shoes. The so-called "neutral" shoes for bio-mechanically efficient runners may not have adequate support in the heel, because the runners for whom these shoes are intended do not require it. When their cushioning capability degrades, the shoes should be replaced. The commonly recommended replacement interval for shoes is 300-500 miles. Excessive pronation can be reduced by extra supports under the arch. Running shoes which have a significant supporting bump under the arch are called "motion control" shoes, because they work by limiting the pronating motion. Also shoes with cushion shock features and shoe inserts can help prevent future problems.

Ok... I hope this brings some light to some of your issues