Doctorcall

After much soul searching in a difficult week for Manchester and it’s much stretched public services, the race organisers decided to go ahead with this year’s Great  Manchester run on Sunday 28th May. 10km and half marathoners pounded the pavements and streets of the city and populated the busiest event of its kind in Europe.  Defiance and grit was shown by tens of thousands of runners in a very difficult week, and perhaps the coming together of a wide spectrum of the running community was yet another credit to the city that had demonstrated its resilience and strength all week.

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One of many potential down sides to the thwacking of tarmac is the transmitted force from the road back up the mechanical chain of the lower limb.  Shin splints are a popular seasonal injury at this time of the year with many keen amateurs upping their mileage in preparation for spring/summers upcoming challenges. 

Shin splints are generally described as pain in the front of the shins. This pain can be on the inside or outside of the shin bone (tibia).

Typically, this pain gets worse with activity (although in early stages it can ease once warmed up, but then bites later!)

Causes: typically 2 causes

1)      Relative calf length/strength- A calf muscle that is too tight can often cause pain on the inside of the tibia. It can sometimes cause pain on the outside shin muscle too as this is the muscle working in opposition to the calf- a sort of tug of war evolves.

Rest, reducing the volume of loading (impact and calf effort can be reduced on a cross trainer or in the pool) combined with plenty of specific stretching to the group of calf muscles will generally solve shin splints caused by a short calf group.  If you have long calf muscles that are not coping with the strength requirements that you are throwing at them then some strength and balance work for the lower limb will help with both the endurance of the calf group and stability around the ankle. Proper instruction should be sought for these stretches and strength exercises.

2)      Biomechanics- the alignment of your leg and back is influenced by a variety of tensions and lengths of muscle around your legs and pelvis and by your foot position. Some or all of these can be present. Poor biomechanics can cause the outside shin muscle to tug at the outer covering of the tibia and cause pain. Assessment and treatment by an experienced sports physiotherapist is necessary to determine which areas of your leg/body need adjustment. Resting until these symptoms disappear will not fix the cause of the problem. The pains will return once running recommences.

A good running store will help you select the correct trainer type (control/stability or neutral shoes) to suit your biomechanics. Some supportive insole (Orthotics) may also be required in some circumstances.  We are lucky that our partners at both Up & Running and Sweatshop stores offer discounts for people who have sought our advice.

If you seek advice from a specialist sports physiotherapist quickly, you will return to running sooner. Biomechanical assessments, advice on footwear and Orthotics are available at City Physio. Keep on running….

Nick is a keen runner himself and has just completed a trail marathon in the Lake District. 

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