Shin Splints and Flat Feet: Causes and Treatments

Published: 15th June 2009
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Over-Pronation, Sports, and Shin Splints

If you love running or participating in team sports, you're at risk for shin splints, pain in the knees, Achilles tendonitis, and other lower extremity injuries. Medial tibial stress syndrome, as it is called by the Mayo Clinic, is a pain that runs down the length of the shin bone and is caused by excessive pressure on the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the lower part of the leg. This stress can be caused by by running activities in any setting and can be exacerbated by flat feet and insufficient arch support.

Many sports therapy experts advise using ice, temporarily ceasing running or sports, and using proper shoes, preferably in conjunction with insoles for sports. Applying ice to the shin and supporting structures in the lower leg help ease pain while lessening the amount of inflammation promptly after an injury. Rest is always recommended because it allows for the repair of tendons, muscles, and bones. Finally, using proper shoes can dramatically help prevent re-injury to the lower legs and feet by providing better cushioning and foot arch support. This allows for correct foot arrangement and resists shock. Sport orthotics can make all the difference in endurance and performance because they provide support for the foot arches as well as additional cushioning. For people with flat feet, these specialized insoles for sports support the arch ideally and rebalance the lower body.

Overpronation due to flat feet can cause more than just shin splints to occur. Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, ankle, knee, and lower back pain, as well as Achilles tendonitis can be caused by flat feet. If insoles for sports are not used during strenuous activities, re-injury and serious foot issues can occur. The mechanics involved in these injuries are connected to the plantar fascia tendon, which is the central structure supporting the foot arch. It is a band-like structure that lengthens to absorb the shock caused when the foot carries our body weight during sports activity. In people with flat feet, this tissue is too long and has lost its elasticity. Its capacity to absorb shock has been severely diminished. This condition also causes excess pronation of the foot, or the inclination for the ankles to roll toward the center of the body. The weight of the body is then incorrectly concentrated on one region rather than being evenly distributed over the full area of the foot. This is how sports orthotics can be of significant help in cases of flat feet and other foot problems; they provide structural stability and cushioning in all the right areas.

Fred Salomon is a foot care specialist who specializes in the design of orthotic insoles for healing common foot problems such as flat feet. The use of appropriate orthotic shoe inserts plays a vital role in preventing many of these common foot health problems.

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