Understanding the causes of shin splints and shin splint pain is key to managing them in the future. Shin splint causes fall into one of two main categories, which are; overload and biomechanical inefficiencies.
Circuit breakers and power strips serve a very important purpose; they keep an electrical overload from entering a system and causing damage. A power surge, such as a lightning bolt or similar, may cause a circuit to trip and thus stop the electricity. Pain is the body’s way of tripping a circuit. If the body becomes overloaded, pain tells the body to stop.
Using our analogy, shin splints originate from weight bearing activity on legs that are not properly conditioned. Beginning runners, for example, often have shin splints and shin splint pain as they begin running because their bodies are not acclimated to the impact force of running.
Most incorrectly assume it is the added weight or force applied to the muscles, tendons and fascia of the lower leg, but research supports impact. This does not mean weight or force cannot be a shin splint cause, only that the shin splint pain may be more related to increased activity.
Basically, it is not running that causes shin splints or shin splint pain, but the shock of the foot landing that causes shin splint pain. As the muscles and tendons tire, they lose their ability to absorb shock force, which leads to a breakdown of the structures within the lower legs.
The second category of shin splint causes has to do with the body itself and not external factors. The primary biological inefficiency of shin splint pain is flat feet, (pes planus) or fallen arches as they are known medically. A flat foot results from the body’s failure to properly develop the arch under the foot or from injury and illness.
Flat feet can lead to another condition called pronation, which is the tendency of the foot to flatten and then roll inward. The turning of the foot as it falls in a normal step makes the lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula) twist and this overstretches the muscles, tendons and fascia in the lower leg.
Of course, there are other factors that can cause shin splint pain. To learn more about shin splint causes and shin splint pain, visit our comprehensive shin splints article for additional information.
Also, keep an eye-out for my next installment on symptoms of shin splints due out next month.
Until next time, stay healthy, keep stretching and God bless.
The Stretch Coach