Walking: Strain or Pain

What happens when you start feeling strain and pain in your feet and legs?
Do you push through the pain, rest up on the couch or get treatment?
Here are some common causes of pain in the lower extremity below the knee.

  • Shin splints : strain of muscle and its tendinous attachment to bone.
    1. Medial Tibila stress syndrome: pain mostly located on inside of lower leg
    2. Tibialis anterior strain: pain mostly located on outside of lower leg

Can be caused by: a change of routine or new activity, too much too soon. Inadequate footwear and muscle tightness in the front of the leg are often the most common causes. This muscle tightness may be due to mechanical factors during the gait cycle. Often occurs due to : repetivie impact i.e walking, running, dancing, football etc.

  • Compartment Syndrome:
    1. Presents similar to shin splints but does not respond to conservative treatments for shin splint diagnosis. Different to shin splints in that pressure increases in the fascial compartments that make up the leg ( Front, outside, superficial back of leg and deep back of leg)
  • Tibial stress fracture:
    1. Hairline fracture in bone. Common stress injury, often due to repetitive microtrauma.
    2. Can be predisposed by poor shock absorption from feet (altered arches i.e. fallen, or over/under pronation syndrome), sudden excessive increase in exercise or impact, hard surfaces when running and jumping.
    3. Be wary of acute sudden onset of pain after high impact/intensity.
  • Achilles Tendonopathy or rupture
    1. Tendonopathy: commonly occurs in runners and jumping sports. Can be caused by overly tight gastrocnemius and soleus contraction which pulls against the achilles tendon insertion into the back of the heel.
    2. Rupture: partial or complete tear of achilles tendon. Feeling a pop or snap in the lower back part of leg, affects ability to walk. Often occurs in football, tennis etc.
    3. Some tears may heal with non-invasive treatments while other more serious tears may need surgical intervention to nit the two torn parts back together.

It is recommended that shoes need to be replaced when the niggles start! A well fitted running shoe will provide good support to your foot, leg and body. If you begin to notice low-grade aches and pains then it’s possible that your footwear needs to be changed. Elverys, Lifestyle sports and other sports shops provide foot analysis and can recommend appropriate support for your specific requirements (walking or running, long-distance or fast-passed). Try on all the runners recommended and assess which feels most comfortable for your requirements. Take your time when investing in runners, choose ones based on comfort and support not on the price or colours.

When experiencing pain in the body whether it is sudden or gradual in onset, sharp or low grade pain seeking advice from your Osteopath is good practice. Pain is your body’s signal to the brain that something is not right and needs to be addressed.