Health & Wellness Magazine HealthQuest Winter 2019 - Page 12

SHIN SPLINTS Shin Splints BY: BRENDAN WALSH, C. PED (C) MEDIAL TIBIAL stress syndrome, more commonly known as shin splints, is an exercise- or activity-induced pain in the anterior portion of the lower leg. Most commonly seen in runners, this syndrome can be caused by both external and internal factors. External factors are things that are outside of the body such as running on uneven surfaces, running up or down hills, too much training, or increasing training intensity too quickly. One of the most common external factors that causes medial tibial stress syndrome is improper footwear. Internal factors have to do with things inside the body such as improper biomechanics, decreased flexibility, previous injury, and decreased strength. Improper footwear can mean a multitude of things. First, it could be that your running footwear is too old and that it does not have the proper amount of shock-absorbing capability left, causing your body to absorb the pounding from the ground. It could also mean that you 12 are wearing shoes that do not offer the right kind of support that your feet need. Usually, there are two classifications of running footwear: stability and neutral. Stability shoes—such as Asics Gel- Kayano, Saucony Omni, or Brooks Beast—are shoes that are structured for people that have a tendency to roll their feet too much towards the middle of their body, or over-pronate. Now, it is very important to note that pronation is not a bad thing. Everyone has to pronate in order for their feet to function properly. The problem with pronation arises when it happens too much that it causes other joints of the body to compensate or perform actions they aren’t built to do. The result is subsequent pain such as shin splints. Neutral shoes, on the other hand, are structured for people that do not pronate enough, or under-pronate. These people usually use the outside of their feet when walking or running and typically have a very high arch. As a result, the rest of the lower leg is tasked with attempting to push the feet back towards the middle of the body, causing excess strain. Examples of neutral shoes include Asics Gel-Nimbus, Saucony Echelon, and the Brooks Glycerin. Therefore, getting the proper pair of footwear is one form of treatment for shin splints. Other treatments include foot orthotics, icing the affected area, rest, or if rest is not an option, taping the painful area with athletic tape. However, it is important to note that even with these treatments, if you are wearing the wrong kind of footwear, the pain may not subside. As shoes are the first contact point with the ground, having something that will provide the proper alignment, cushion, and support is crucial to injury prevention. If you are experiencing shin splints or have further questions regarding how to prevent or treat them, a biomechanical examination by a Canadian Certified Pedorthist—in conjunction with treatment from other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists and massage therapists—is highly recommended.