Why I always have pain in ankle, heel, or area between ankle and knee, while running? Am I suffering from plantar fasciitis? Is it that shin splints pain has triggered in me?
Well, if you have these questions in your mind as a runner, it is not surprising because these issues are common and tend to coexist in runners. You are not alone! Shin splints and plantar fasciitis are the most common injuries having a few things in common, in terms of causes and treatments.
Shin Splints versus Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis causes pain at the foot’s bottom or in the foot’s heel due to inflammation or collagen degeneration in the plantar fascia, a thickened muscle fiber linked to the heel and extending along the foot’s bottom. The muscle fiber gives arch support as well as aids in shock absorption. The pain is intolerable often while walking some steps after awaking in the morning, especially after lengthened standing or walking.
Shin splints refers to the pain in the area or in muscles along the shinbone running from below the knee to ankle. It is perhaps due to the inflammation in shinbone or tibia.
Why My Lower Body Injuries and Pain Not Going Away: Causes of Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis
- Pronation Distortion Syndrome: While there are three postural problems affecting modern people, the pronation distortion syndrome affects the lower back, knees, and ankles. The syndrome is usually due to the tightening of few muscle groups as well as weakening of the others. In simple terms, the knees, feet, and ankles do not evenly take up your body weight. This means running results in inflicting uneven stress on the body. This results in ankle problems, shin splints occurring around the front of calves, plantar fasciitis happening at the foot’s bottom, and even lower back pain.
- Immobile or Weak Ankle: Another factor of shin splints or plantar fasciitis is ankle immobility. If the ankles are not properly moving and that the calves are tight, nagging aches are indispensable due to running. Here, the range of motion for pulling back the toes toward the shin or dorsiflexion is under focus. The capacity for such motion defines your ability to absorb the force while hitting the ground with foot on every step. Made up of two ligaments and three bones, the ankle is perhaps a vital but ignored body part. Its ligaments and bones support more than 95% of the overall weight. However, if the ankle is weak, it can result in over-pronating in which the foot tends to step too far inwardly as well as supinating in which the foot lands too far outwardly. Depending upon which foot area is overstressing, the weakness can trigger different types of injuries.
- Overtraining: Plantar fasciitis is more common in overweight and older athletes along with those involved in prolonged exercise. Tennis players spending hours, distance runners covering several miles, and basketball players in extensive preseason training are more prone to plantar fasciitis. On the other hand, shin splints affect immature and new athletes who temptingly increase their running speed, time, and distance for more intense training. In case of trainers that are more experienced and athletes, tibial stress or compartment syndrome can be the cause.
Other common causes of shin splints and plantar fasciitis are:
- Tightness of the foot & calf
- Very low or high arches
- Poor footwear
- Improper training
How Can I Treat Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis: Common Treatments
Do you remember when you last tried to strengthen the ankle or stretching the leg muscles? Well, some simple exercises can extend the full motion range of the ankle as well as stretch the target muscles.
- Inhibitory techniques, such as self myofascial release using a tennis ball, foam roller, or rolling stick to release muscle tension for more effective stretching
- Calf stretching exercises to extend the shortened soleus (not crossing the knee) and gastrocnemius (crossing the knee) muscles with straight as well as bent knees (gastroc ) and soleus
- Ice dipping and ice massage for removing the swelling-induced fluid from muscles
- Heel raises
In short, a close relationship exists between planar fasciitis and shin splints, with the difference only in the place of pain and injury.