The term shin splints is a name often given to any pain at the front of the lower leg. However, true shin splints symptoms occur at the front inside of the shin bone and can arise from a number of causes.
The most common cause is inflammation of the periostium of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone). Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation.
Symptoms of shin splints:
Pain over the inside lower half of the shin.
Pain at the start of exercise which often eases as the session continues
Pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning.
Sometimes some swelling.
Lumps and bumps may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone.
Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards.
A redness over the inside of the shin (not always present).
Shin Splints Treatment
Treatment for shin splints is as simple as reducing pain and inflammation, identifying training and biomechanical problems which may have helped cause the injury initially, restoring muscles to their original condition and gradually returning to training.
Using RICE, stretching, wearing shock absorbent soles, training using swimming or cycling, applying heat or wearing a heat retainer before and during exercise are all methods that can aid in the rehabilitation and further damage of shin splints.
Achilles Tendinitis (Tendinopathy)
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the ankle. It connects the large calf muscles to the heel bone and provides the power in the push off phase of the gait cycle (walking and running).
Achilles tendonitis can be either acute, meaning occurring over a period of a few days, following an increase in training, or chronic which occurs over a longer period of time.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Gradual onset of pain over a period of days
Pain at the onset of exercise which fades as the exercise progresses.
Pain eases with rest.
Tenderness on palpation.
Chronic achilles tendonitis may follow on from acute tendonitis if it goes untreated or is not allow sufficient rest. Chronic achilles tendonitis is a difficult condition to treat, particularly in older athletes who appear to suffer more often.
Gradual onset of pain over a period of weeks, or even months.
Pain with all exercise, which is constant throughout.
Pain in the tendon when walking especially up hill or up stairs.
Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon especially in the morning or after rest.
There may be nodules or lumps in the achilles tendon, particularly 2-4cm above the heel.
Tenderness on palpation.
Swelling or thickening over the Achilles tendon.
There may be redness over the skin.
You can sometimes feel a creaking when you press your fingers into the tendon and move the ankle.
Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis
Rest and apply cold therapy.
Wear a heel pad to raise the heel and take some of the strain off the achilles tendon. This should only be a temporary measure while the achilles tendon is healing.
Make sure you have the right running shoes for your foot type and the sport.
See a sports injury professional who can advise on treatment and rehabilitation.
Anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
Use ultrasound treatment.
Apply sports massage techniques.
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition caused by overuse of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot. The Plantar Fascia is a broad, thick band of tissue that runs from under the heel to the front of the foot.
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is very tight calf muscles which leads to prolonged and / or high velocity pronation of the foot. This in turn produces repetitive over-stretching of the plantar fascia leading to possible inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it looses flexibility and strength.
Overpronation and oversupination are also thought to be causes of this.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
Rest until it is not painful. It can be very difficult to rest the foot as most people will be on their feet during the day.
A good plantar fasciitis taping technique can help the foot get the rest it needs by supporting the plantar fascia.
Apply ice or cold therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Stretching the plantar fascia is an important part of treatment and prevention. This can be done by pulling up on toes and holding the stretch for about 30 seconds.
A sprain is stretching and or tearing of ligaments (you sprain a ligament and strain a muscle).
The most common damage sustained in a sprained ankle is to the anterior talofibular ligament. The ankle turns over so the sole of the foot faces inwards, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
We treat this using RICE.
Cramp Calf muscles
Leg cramps are painful contractions of the muscle that happen involuntarily.
Leg cramps can be caused by a number of things:
Dehydration (not taking on enough water, especially in hot conditions).
Low potassium or sodium (salt) levels.
Low carbohydrate levels.
Very tight muscles.
What can you do?
Stretch the muscles involved. Hold the stretch for as long as is necessary.
Gentle massage of the muscles may also help relieve the symptoms by encouraging blood flow.
The patella tendon / ligament joins the kneecap (patella) to the shin bone or tibia. This tendon is extremely strong and allows the quadriceps muscle group to straighten the leg. The quadriceps actively straighten the knee in jumping to propel the individual off the ground as well as functioning in stabilizing their landing.
As such this tendon comes under a large amount of stress especially in individuals who actively put extra strain on the knee joint such as those who regularly perform sports that involve direction changing and jumping movements.
Symptoms of jumpers knee
Pain at the bottom and front of the kneecap especially when pressing in or palpating.
Aching and stiffness after exertion.
Pain when you contract the quadriceps muscles.
The affected tendon may appear larger than the unaffected side.
Calf weakness may be present
Treatment of jumpers knee
Rest from training
In mild to moderate cases, adaptation of training to reduce impact and jumping activities may be suitable.
Apply cold therapy on a regular basis, especially after any form of exercise.
Wear a knee support, or jumpers knee strap to reduce pain and ease the strain on the tendon.
See a sports injury specialist who can advise on a rehabilitation program.
Eccentric strengthening is usually recommended.
If the knee does not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be required.
Each student will be required to make a flowchart poster outlining the steps/ procedures in administering first aid for an injury of your choice.
Your poster should be no smaller than A4 and should be visually clear and understandable.
The flow chart should clearly detail through pictures and words the steps required to treat the injury.
You will need to prepare all your information, pictures, ideas and materials before the next Health class (which is in one week’s time). You will then create your poster during the next class. No finished posters may be brought to the next class (you will be deducted marks if you do).
All the information covered in class can be viewed on the PE blog.