Lower Leg, Foot And Ankle Injuries
The Lower Leg, Foot and Ankle
We believe the most important movement for any runner to have is dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion is the amount of movement that is possible by taking the knee over the toe. The movement of dorsiflexion allows us to ‘propel forwards’. Therefore, if we are limited in dorsiflexion the surrounding muscles will have to work harder to drive us forwards. This can create several injuries around the foot and ankle.
However, for all these injuries our first investigation will always be to assess how much flexibility is available at the ankle (dorsiflexion).
See below a video where we discuss how to assess your own flexibility. Check out the two knee to wall tests to assess your dorsiflexion.
Lower Leg Pain - I get pain in my shins, heels or feet during and after running?
These are all very common complaints within the running community.
Shin pain is often termed shin splints. The Tibalis muscles (anterior and posterior) attach to the inside and outside of the shin bone. In running these muscles can excessively pull on the shin bone disturbing it and causing pain. It is vital to check foot biomechanics and the amount of movement at the ankle joint when correcting this condition. Ice on the shin bone will also relieve acute symptoms.
Achilles tendinitis and heel pain is a common complaint for runners. The achilles tendon (tendon of the Calf and Soleus muscle) attaches into the heel.
During running the calf and soleus can become tight or damaged and place excessive strain upon the achilles tendon.
It is crucial that these muscles are addressed to ease the pressure being placed on the tendon. Ice on the sore tendon will help the pain. Static stretching of the Calves, Soleus and Tibilais Posterior are crucial for long term correction of these issues. See our video below for a video on key stretches for runners.
Pain on the base of the foot is a common condition known as Plantar Fascitis. The plantar fascia is a layer of connective tissue (similar to the ITB) on the underside of the foot. It attaches to the heel and is also connected to the calf and soleus muscles.
If these muscles become tight then it can create excessive force on the plantar fascia and cause irritation. Like the ITB we are unable to stretch the plantar fascia but the use of an item such as a lacrosse ball can be very helpful. You can place your foot on the ball and apply a downward pressure and roll out the tight areas! We are sorry, it does hurt! See below a video on plantar fasciitis.
Tibilais Posterior Syndrome. The Tibialis Posterior muscle lies beneath the calf complex on the back of the shin bone. It is very common in runners to become tight or develop dysfunction in this muscle. The pain is often experienced on the inside of the shin (see above shin splints section) or typically, on the inside of the ankle. The inside of the ankle is the tendon of the muscle and it can commonly become inflamed. This inflammation can be managed with ice but it is important to address the cause to fully resolve the issue.
Will Strengthening Help
Yes! Both strength and stability of the ankle are very important. If the structures are not string enough for the demands being placed upon them, they will result in injury. See our video below on some of the key strengthening exercises for runners.