lower leg

Okay, team, get ready for a technical post that briefly explores the world of the lower extremity, specifically below the knee as it relates to that aching pain in the shins. My inner anatomy and kinesiology geekness from being an OT is going to shine through on this post.

Saturday morning I went out for a run (see my legs behave like my pre-teen daughter post which explains how that went). I knew it was going to be a short run, there wasn’t much time to squeeze it in, I knew I wanted to increase the intensity a bit so I could maximize my time. I decided to do a hill workout at the local cemetery. I took the dogs with me and wound up doing more of a trail run with them after the hills. Two days later, I can barely touch the tendon that attach my Tibialis Anterior muscle to the…let’s skip the crazy medical terms including medial, cuneiform, metatarsal and leave it at…foot. Other muscles were sore too, but this one was the worst. Even the muscle belly was really tender when palpated. I had a flashback to the high school athletic trainers office where we all stopped by to get our shins iced and taped up before practice. Because I haven’t been running in cleats on the sidewalk (why did our coaches let us do that?!) I thought out loud in disbelief: “No. It couldn’t be shin splints…could it?”

I like this excerpt from Livestrong.com:
“The function of the tibialis anterior muscle is to dorsiflex and invert the foot. You perform dorsiflexion when you bend your ankle and point your toes toward your shin. Foot inversion takes place when you turn your foot inward. Under normal circumstances, these motions do not cause any problems. However, when you overload the tibialis anterior muscle, pain can develop. This is generally caused from running on uneven surfaces, running downhill and making fast cuts while running.” Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/478819-running-and-pain-in-the-tibialis-anterior-muscle/#ixzz2Uded2718

AHA! That trail run with the dogs where I tripped 2 times and had wobbly ankles throughout.
Uneven surfaces + weak tibialis anterior (and other) muscles = R.I.C.E. method stat!
Was it shin splints? I don’t think so. The pain was more muscle soreness and has subsided already (it’s Tuesday night).But I should definitely do something about this. I’ve long forgotten about these stretches, and I need to get them back into the rotation (nice images found on www.teachpe.com):
shin stretch2


These are also good to stretch the Extensor Digitorum Longus (that’s just fun to say) which is another muscle responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot. The Extensor Hallucis Longus (inserts into the top of the big toe) is also targeted in these stretches. So there you have it! Save your shins by re-instating these stretches and keep moving forward!

-Mama K

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