Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Top 4 Causes of Shin Splints
So what are shin splints? Shin splints are miniature fractures of the bone that occur along a muscle attachment site in the lower leg and can repeatedly be injured and even cause bone disfigurement when healed over numerous times. There are many different muscles that attach in the lower leg as you can see from the picture below.
There are 4 Main Causes of Shin Splints
1. Excessive use of improper footwear
2. Chronic tight leg muscles
3. Magnesium deficiency
4. Joint misalignment of the lower leg and pelvis
When it comes to wearing shoes, many of us choose the wrong type in the name of fashion, convenience, or because they are the latest technology to make our legs and butts look tighter. Am I right? Don't deny it because I know it's true! The key thing to remember when it comes to footwear is that we need to make correct choices most of the time and when wearing shoes that aren't anatomically correct we need to stretch and do specific exercises to reverse the damage we've caused while wearing these shoes. As a general rule, I DO NOT recommend shoes that have a heel or ones that are restrictive for your toes to move sideways. These shoes not only weaken muscles in the feet but they also cause increased degenerative rates of the bones in the foot that can lead to bunions and disfigurement and can even cause altered posture and gait that can lead to shin, knee, hip, or low back pain and increased degenerative rates that can lead to injuries including disc herniations and spinal fractures.
Chronic tightness of the posterior leg muscles can also cause significant posture changes that can alter your pelvic posture and pull or tighten muscles that attach directly on the shin. These tight muscles can become unbalanced around the joint itself and may lead to shin splints. I recommend a daily stretching routine to address the muscles in the low back and legs to help neutralize any muscle tension that can contribute to injury. If you're already doing a stretching routine and noticing that the muscles seem tighter on one side or if you're feeling a stretch in other places further up or down the leg on one side, chances are you have a muscle imbalance that might be contributing to a future injury.
Magnesium deficiency is a huge factor in the world today. Magnesium is mostly found in dark green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables and since most of us eat iceberg lettuce and don't eat seaweed on a weekly basis, about 80% of the population is in fact deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is the body's key nutrient that is used to relax muscles including those in the walls of your blood vessels, so if you're deficient you may feel tightness and stiffness in your muscles and you may have a slightly elevated blood pressure as well. Magnesium is also one of the nutrients your body needs to harden bones, so if you're getting mini fractures from shin splints and don't have enough magnesium, chances are that you're not healing fully. This can predispose you to future injuries and even lead to shin splints that become worse or spread over a larger area.
The last and most important cause of shin splints is joint misalignment! If your posture or muscles are weak or unbalanced due to footwear choices and chronic muscle tightness then your body may try to adapt itself. This adaptation can include tipping the pelvic forward or backward, rotation of the bones in the leg, and even loss of foot arch due to muscle weakness or rotation of the bones in the foot due to compensation. Adaptation is a necessary means of survival short term, however if you're dealing with these types of adaptation over a period of time it can lead to permanent changes and increase rates of degeneration or arthritis in the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and even feet.
If you or a loved one is suffering from shin splints or any of the other conditions I've mentioned that can be directly linked as a contribution to shin splints, I'd highly recommend they get evaluated by a clinician who is trained to recognize joint misalignment and correct it.
For those of you in the Peoria area, I am extending 5 spots for a free consultation and examination to check for joint misalignment, muscle imbalance, and magnesium deficiency that can contribute to shin splints or other low back, knee, and foot conditions. This comprehensive evaluation normally costs upwards of $150 due to the time required but for the first five that call I am offering this examination and consultation free of charge!* Please call my office 309-689-6200 today to reserve your spot. For those of you outside of the Peoria area, AlignLife offices are expanding across the US so check our website for the clinic closest to you or talk to your chiropractor about joint alignment issues that can contribute to shin splints.
* State funded insurance members including Medicare and Medicaid are not eligible.