Health & Wellness for Your Feet
Click on the condition below to see the definition and products to use that nurture the health and wellness of your foot for your condition.
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What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles Tendonitis is a condition that causes the Achilles tendon to inflame and deteriorate. The Achilles tendon is located at the back of the lower leg it attaches to the heel bone and connects the leg muscles to the foot. Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis most commonly develop gradually. Pain may be mild at first and worsen with continued activity even to the degree of making walking almost impossible.
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles Tendonitis may be the result of a single incident of overstressing the tendon, or it may be the result of a series of stresses that produce small tears over time. The condition is aggravated by activities that involve sudden stops and starts or by repetitive jumping. In some cases even prolonged periods of standing can cause symptoms. Achilles Tendonitis is commonly experienced by athletes, particularly distance runners.
Over-pronation is a common cause of Achilles Tendonitis. Over-pronation occurs in the walking process, when the arch of the foot flattens and the leg twists more than normal causing stress to the Achilles tendon.
Other factors that lead to Achilles Tendonitis include improper footwear, inadequate stretching prior to engaging in activity, a short Achilles tendon, heel bone deformity, and direct trauma to the tendon.
How is Achilles Tendonitis Prevented and Treated?
To prevent and treat Achilles Tendonitis athletes should thoroughly stretch their muscles prior to beginning activity. Athletes should also decrease the distance of their walk or run, apply ice after the activity and avoid any uphill climbs.
Athletes should use an orthotic device, heel cup, or heel cradle for extra support. The device should be made with light-weight, shock absorbing materials. An orthotic device can be used to control over-pronation, support the longitudinal arch, and reduce stress on the Achilles tendon. If the problem persists, consult a foot specialist. Achilles Tendonitis should not be left untreated as the tendon can become weak and rupture.
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Arch Pain & Strain
What is Arch Pain / Arch Strain?
Arch pain, commonly referred to as arch strain, is often felt as a burning sensation or inflammation at the arch of the foot. The pain is often at its worst in the morning or after a prolonged period of rest when an individual stands up.
What Causes Arch Pain / Arch Strain?
The most common specific causes of arch pain or strain include excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, the long tendon that supports the arch, causing inflammation and resulting in plantar fasciitis. Arch pain or strain can also be the result of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, a pinched nerve at the ankle that causes pain to the arch of the foot.
There are several other causes of arch pain or strain including structural imbalances of the foot such as over-pronation, commonly referred to as flat foot. Although over-pronation alone is not enough to cause the problem arch pain may occur when combined with other factors such as overuse, running, walking, hard surfaces, prolonged periods of standing, and or inadequate footwear.
How is Arch Pain/Arch Strain Treated and Prevented?
When symptoms are mild arch pain is easily treated with proper footwear that provides support to the midfoot and the heel area. Try to select footwear with shock absorbing soles, soft leather uppers, and removable foot insoles. High-heeled shoes should be avoided as often as possible.
Stretching exercises for the calf muscles and arch are also recommended and if indicated, the use of foot orthotics. When the arch pain is a result of over-pronation the problem can be controlled and relieved with an orthotic device designed with a medical heel post and proper arch support.
If the pain persists, consult your foot doctor. It is important to treat arch pain as soon as possible to avoid further complications due to strain on the longitudinal arch.
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What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the redness, warmth, pain and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints in the body. Arthritis it is a major cause of foot pain due to the fact that each foot has several joints that can become affected. There are many different types of arthritis and people over the age of fifty are the most common targets.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis it causes inflammation, excessive, strain, cartilage damage, formation of cysts, difficult and painful movement, and muscles imbalances in the affected joint. The pain and swelling is worsened by standing or walking, and after periods of rest stiffness usually occurs.
Gout is another form of arthritis that also leads to foot complications. The disease causes sudden, severe attacks of inflammation in a joint. Gout often affects the big toe joint due to the stress and pressure it experiences during walking and other weight bearing activities. Gout can be inherited or it can be a result of complications from another condition. Men have a higher risk of developing gout than women.
Another type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, there is no known cause and it can develop at any age. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause severe deformities of the joints resulting in fatigue of the entire body. This type of arthritis can cause long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis may develop due to a number of causes. Arthritis is often heredity however it can develop due to many other factors including bacterial and viral infections, bowel disorders such as ileitis and colitis, prescription and illegal drugs, and traumatic injuries.
Hammer toes, mallet toes, claw toes, and bunions often develop as a result of arthritis, particularly as a result of Rheumatoid arthritis. Pain can also develop in the heel and ankle area due to the degeneration of the involved joints.
How is Arthritis Prevented and Treated?
Proper footwear, orthotics, and/or forefoot supports should be worn for the treatment of arthritis. Try to choose footwear that has height and width space in the toe area to accommodate swelling, removable insoles, extra cushioning, the option to insert orthotics if necessary, and rocker soles designed to assist walking; these features will reduce pressure and provide comfort and support.
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What is Athletes Foot?
Athlete's Foot is a fungal infection that thrives in areas that are moist and warm. The condition is characterized by red, dry, flaking skin and it is often accompanied by itching and sometimes cracking. It usually appears between the toes, most commonly between the forth and fifith toes; However it can also be present on the sides of the foot or on the bottom of the foot. Athletes foot that has spread to the toe nails may cause chronic fungal infection.
What Causes Athletes Foot?
Athletes foot is often contracted in showers, dressing rooms, gyms, and other warm damp areas where the fungus can thrive. Feet should be carefully washed and thoroughly dried after exposure to fungal spores to prevent the fungus from entering into cuts or sores on the feet. Athletes foot is easily spread to other parts of the body by touching or scratching the infection and then touching other parts of the body.
How is Athletes Foot Prevented and Treated?
Athletes foot can be prevented and treated by eliminating the things that accommodate the growth and spread of the fungus. Feet must be kept clean by washing them daily with soap and water followed by a thorough drying, especially in between the toes. Shoes and socks that are dry and facilitate air circulation should be worn, footwear should not be borrowed from others. Foot powders can be used to further reduce foot moisture.
Athletes foot can be difficult to treat and can become chronic, for this reason it is important to consult your doctor and have the condition correctly diagnosed and treated promptly. Treatment may involve a prescription antifungal medication, either oral or topical, and continually keeping the foot clean and dry.
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What is a Bunion?
A bunion is often described as a bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint. It is a progressive disorder that begins with the big toe leaning toward the second toe rather that pointing straight ahead. Over time this condition results in a physical change in the structure of the bones in front part of the foot. As the condition progresses it is common for the big toe to rest under the second toe causing overlapping toes, a common forefoot problem.
Symptoms of bunions may include inflammation and redness, swelling, a burning sensation, pain, and even numbness on the side surface of the big toe. The condition is aggravated by long periods of standing and it is common for a bunion to cause the affected person to walk improperly.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions can develop as the result of arthritis or an abnormality in foot function; however it is most commonly caused by improper footwear. Symptoms often occur as the result of wearing high heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight in the toe area. Wearing this type of footwear causes the toes to squeeze together and over time the foot begins to take the shape of the shoe resulting in a bunion. Women are at a greater risk of developing a bunion than men.
Due to the fact that bunions are a progressive disorder it is important for men and women to realize that proper footwear is essential. Continually wearing shoes that are tight in the toe area will cause the bunion to gradually worsen to the point where surgery becomes necessary.
How are Bunions Treated and Prevented?
Treatment is aimed at easing the pain of bunions; however it will not reverse the deformity itself. The first step is to change footwear, choose footwear that has a wide toe box rather than shoes with pointed toes or high heels that worsen the condition. Other treatment methods to provide pain and pressure relief may include the use of orthotic devices, shoes with rocker soles, bunion shields, bunion night splints, or bunion bandages. These treatments can limit the progression of the bunion and provide comfort, support, and protection to the affected area.
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What is a Callus?
Calluses are the areas of thickened dead skin cells caused by repeated friction and pressure. Calluses are normally found on the heel, the ball of the foot, and/or the inside of the big toe as these areas typically bear the most pressure from standing or walking; however they can develop on any part of the body. As calluses thicken the pressure on the skin may cause pain.
What Causes a Callus?
A callus develops to provide protection to the foot from excessive pressure and friction. Calluses may develop as the result of wearing inadequate footwear, obesity, abnormalities in the walking motion, flat feet, high arched feet, bunions, and the loss of the fat pad on the bottom of the foot. Calluses may be painless or they may throb and burn. Some calluses have a deep seated core known as a nucleation, which is particularly sensitive to pressure.
How are Calluses Treated and Prevented?
Calluses can usually be successfully treated through the use of arch supports and custom molded or over-the-counter orthotics. An effective orthotic will redistribute weight equally to relieve excessive pressure and provide support, allowing the callus to heal. The orthotic should be made with materials that absorb shock and prevent friction.
Other methods to relieve the discomfort of tender calluses include the use of metatarsal pads, soft insole inserts, and using soft surfaces such as a rubber mat for standing areas. Soaking the feet in warm water and filing down the callus with a pumice stone may relieve the pressure resulting from the thickness of the callus. Women should avoid wearing high-heeled shoes whenever possible. Possible indications of a callus infection include increased pain and swelling, fever, or pus-like drainage from the callus. These conditions may require antibiotics.
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What are Claw Toes?
A Claw toe is a toe that is bent at both the middle and end joints in the toe and has a claw-like appearance. It occurs in the four smaller toes causing the ligaments and tendons in the toe to abnormally tighten. The most common symptom of claw toes is severe pain and toe deformity.
What Causes Claw Toes?
Claw toes are the result of ligaments and tendons that have tightened and caused the toe joints to curl downwards and cause severe pain. Discomfort is often felt at the top part of the toe that is rubbing against the shoe and at the end of the toe that is pressed against the bottom of the shoe. Unlike most forefoot deformities, which are the result of tight footwear, claw toes are the result of a muscle imbalance.
The condition is classified as either flexible or rigid; this is based on the mobility of the joints. A flexible claw toe has the ability to move and the toe can be straightened manually. In a rigid claw toe movement is limited and extremely painful causing extra stress at the ball of the foot. It is also possible to develop corns and calluses in a rigid claw toe.
How are Claw Toes Treated and Prevented?
Proper footwear is essential to the treatment of claw toes. When selecting a shoe, it is important to ensure that the shoe has a high and wide toe box, and can accommodate the claw toes. This type of shoe will provide enough room in the forefoot area to decrease friction against the toes.
Conservative treatment begins with accommodating the deformity. The use of a claw toe crest will provide relief to the forefoot by holding the claw toe down. Gel toe shields and gel toe caps are also recommended for comfort and lubrication. They are designed to eliminate the friction between the shoe and the toe.
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What Are Corns?
Corns are hardened areas of skin on the foot that are developed from an accumulation of dead skin cells. Corns commonly form on the tops, sides and tips of the toes as a result of our body’s response to pressure. They may have a central core where the corn is thickest and most painful. This area is aggravated by tight fitting shoes and direct pressure. Constant friction and pressure from footwear may cause the corns to become inflamed.
What Causes Corns?
The most common cause of corns is footwear that does not fit properly. Footwear that is too tight will squeeze and put pressure on the foot. Footwear that is too loose may cause the foot to slide and rub against the shoe, causing friction. Corns can also be caused by toe deformities such as hammer toe and claw toe.
How are Corns Treated and Prevented?
Proper footwear is essential to the treatment of corns. You should begin by choosing footwear that has extra room in the toe box and avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose. An orthotic or shoe insert can be used to absorb shock and relieve pressure. The regular soaking and use of a pumice stone can soften and reduce the size of the corn. Women should avoid wearing high heeled shoes whenever possible.
Solutions and medicated pads designed to remove corns should be avoided. If used incorrectly they can damage the healthy surrounding skin and cause increased irritation and discomfort.
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What is a Diabetic Foot?
Diabetes is a serious disease that affects every part of the body. Diabetes can develop when the body does not produce enough insulin or when the body’s insulin does not perform its normal everyday function. Insulin is a substance produced by the pancreas gland; it helps break down the food we eat and turn it into energy. Sugar provides energy for the body’s cells and insulin is the substance that takes the sugar from the blood to the cells.
Diabetes is classified as two types, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in children and young adults. This type of diabetes results when the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes results when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells reject the body’s insulin. Diabetes causes many complications even when the blood sugar is controlled.
What are the Types of Diabetic Foot Problems?
People with diabetes may suffer from damage to nerve fibers, known as diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause the loss of ability to feel heat, cold, and pain sensations. Due to the insensitivity, the diabetic suffering from neuropathy may not be aware of cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that develop on their feet. Complications leading to ulceration and possibly even amputation may occur when these types of injuries are left untreated. Neuropathy may also lead to foot deformities such as Bunions, and Hammer Toes.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Diabetes can often lead to peripheral vascular disease which is a condition that narrows the arteries in the legs and feet causing a reduction in circulation. Due to the disruption diabetes can cause in the vascular system, it can affect several areas of the body including the eyes, kidneys, legs, and feet. Poor circulation reduces the oxygen and nutrition supplied to the skin and other tissue, causing a slow healing process. Poor circulation may also cause the foot to become dry and swollen. It is essential for diabetics to prevent foot complications because when poor circulation impairs the healing process it can lead to infection, ulcers, and other serious foot problems.
How is Diabetic Foot Treated and Prevented?
Proper footwear and orthotics are an essential part of diabetic footcare. Orthotics designed with Plastazote are usually recommended because the material contours to the foot and provides the comfort and protection required in diabetic footcare. Plastazote is also washable, prevents bacteria growth, and conforms to heat and pressure.
Diabetics should also consider the following features when choosing footwear: a high and wide toe box, removable insoles for fitting flexibility and the option to insert orthotics, rocker soles designed to reduce pressure, and firm heel counters for support and stability.
Due to the consequences of neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease, it is essential for diabetics to reduce the risks of serious foot conditions by taking extra care of their feet. Consult your foot doctor immediately if you are diabetic and experiencing a foot problem.
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What is Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe is a condition in which the ligaments and tendons in the toe tighten and cause the toe to bend or curl at the middle joint. The tightening of the ligaments and tendons can lead to severe pain and pressure. The toe deformity resembles a hammer and may occur in any toe except the big toe. Due to the friction caused by the toe rubbing against the shoe there is often discomfort on the top of the toe.
There are two types of hammer toes, flexible and rigid, each classified based on the mobility of the toe joints. In a flexible hammer toe the joint has the ability to move and it can be straightened manually. A rigid hammer toe has limited movement and can be extremely painful to move. This condition may cause restricted foot movement as well as other foot complications such as corns and calluses.
What Causes Hammer Toes?
There are several known factors that can increase the risk of developing hammer toes. A hammer toe may be the result of a muscle imbalance which causes the ligaments and tendons to become excessively tight and curl downward. Arthritis and tight footwear may also play a factor in the cause of hammer toes.
How is Hammer Toe Prevented and Treated?
Proper fitted footwear is essential to the prevention and treatment of hammer toes. A shoe with a high and wide toe box will provide room for the toes to function without excessive friction and pressure.
Forefoot products that may be recommended include hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints. They are designed to hold the hammer toe down to provide relief. Other recommended forefoot products include gel toe shields and gel toe caps. They are designed to provide comfort and lubrication while reducing friction between the shoe and the toe.
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What are Heel Fissures?
Heel fissures are a common foot problem, often referred to as cracked heels. Heel fissures develop when the skin on the bottom or outer edge of the foot is dry, flaky, and hard. In most cases the condition is simply a nuisance and a cosmetic problem; however, deep fissures are a more serious medical problem because they are painful to stand on and the skin may bleed.
What Causes Heel Fissures?
Common risk factors that may cause heel fissures include:
Heel fissures should never be left untreated as they may become deep or infected. Moisturizer should be applied to the feet regularly to prevent and treat heel fissures. Avoid wearing open back shoes, sandals, thin soled shoes, or going barefoot. The condition can be improved by wearing shoes with strong shock absorption. When heel fissures are present a pumice stone can be used daily to decrease the thick and flaky layer of skin. Diabetics should take extra care of their feet.
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What is Heel Pain?
Heal pain is one of the most common forms of foot pain in which weight bearing on the heel causes excessive discomfort. Heel pain often occurs as a result from daily activities and exercise. This condition is often referred to as heel pain syndrome.
What Causes Heel Pain?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common diagnosis of heel pain in active people. It occurs when the plantar fascia, the long and flat ligament on the bottom of the foot, stretches excessively and becomes inflamed. The pain is usually most intense after a prolonged period of rest. Other causes of heel pain include:
Proper footwear is an essential element in the treatment of heel pain. Wear supportive shoes with a firm heel counter, a slightly elevated heel, and good arch support. A heel cup, visco heel cradle, or a custom orthotic can also be used to absorb shock, provide cushioning, and elevate the heel to transfer pressure.
When the condition is caused by pronation it can be controlled by wearing an orthotic with medial posting and good arch support. This type of orthotic will also prevent the inflammation of the plantar fascia.
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What is a Heel Spurs?
A heel spur is an abnormal bony protrusion of the heel bone and is associated with plantar fasciitis, the large ligament located at the bottom of the foot extending from the heel to the forefoot. A heel spur is made up of calcium deposits and may develop when the plantar fascia abnormally stretches and pulls away from the heel. Heel spurs are often hooked and extend forward toward your toes as much as half and inch. The heel spur itself has no feeling; however, the bony protrusion will often extend into the tendons and nerves of the foot causing intense pain.
The pain resulting from a heel spur is felt in the heel or under the heel and is described as a sharp poking; the pain may become severe and continuous causing inflammation and bruising to occur. The pain is often most intense when taking a step or when putting pressure on the heel, especially after a prolonged period of rest. Walking on hard surfaces or carrying heavy objects may also cause increased pain to the heel.
What Causes Heel Spurs?
The most common cause of heel spurs is the stretching of the plantar fascia; however, there are a number of reasons for a heel spur to develop. These reasons include:
How Can Heel Spurs Be Treated and Prevented?
The first step in the treatment of heel spurs is to determine what is causing the plantar fascia to stretch excessively. When the cause is pronation related an orthotic with rear foot posting and longitudinal arch support is an effective device in allowing the condition to heal by reducing the over-pronation.
Proper footwear is an essential element in the treatment of heel spurs. Wear shoes that absorb shock and have a cushioned heel. Other treatment methods include stretching exercises, losing weight, and elevating the heel with a heel cradle, heel cup, or an orthotic. Heel cradles and heel cups reduce the amount of shock to the heel while providing extra comfort and cushioning.
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What is Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s Neuroma is a condition in which a nerve is enlarged due to pain and swelling, and often accompanied by inflammation. It is a common foot condition that usually occurs at the ball of the foot between the third and fourth toes, causing pain. The most common symptoms include a burning sensation, sharp or dull pain, and lack of feeling in the affected area. It may also cause numbness, tingling, or cramping in the forefoot. The condition is often worsened by walking, standing for a long period of time, and wearing shoes.
What Causes Morton’s Neuroma?
Morton’s Neuroma results from an abnormal function of the foot in which the bones squeeze the nerve between the third and forth toes. Factors that may contribute to Morton’s Neuroma include:
Proper footwear is essential in the treatment of Morton’s Neuroma. Wear shoes that have a high and wide toe box to relieve the pain of the neuroma. An orthotic designed with a metatarsal pad, which is located behind the ball of the foot, should also be worn to relieve the pressure and pain caused by the neuroma.
Other simple treatment methods involve resting the foot, applying an ice pack, and anti-inflammation medications. The pain can also be relieved by massaging the affected area and avoiding excessive weight bearing on the foot.
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What is Morton’s Toe?
Morton’s Toe is a common forefoot disorder in which the second toe is longer than the big toe. About one third of the population has Morton’s toe.
What Causes Morton’s Toe?
Morton's toe causes excessive pressure behind the second toe, at the ball of the foot, which results in pain and discomfort. Calluses may form under the larger second toe due to constant and excessive pressure while walking or standing.
How is Morton’s Toe Treated?
Proper footwear is essential in the treatment of Morton’s toe. Wear shoes that have a high and wide toe box. The larger second toe may benefit from a shoe that is a half size too big, as it will have room to accommodate the toe.
Other treatment methods that may be recommended are the use of a metatarsal pad to reduce the stress on the ball of the foot and/or an orthotic, designed with arch support to keep the foot aligned.
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What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a broad band of tissue which attaches at the bottom of the heel bone and extends to the forefoot attaching to each of the bones that form the ball of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation caused by excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. As a person ages the plantar fascia does not stretch very well and the fat pad at the bottom of the foot gets thinner and cannot absorb much of the shock caused by walking. The extra shock damages the plantar fascia and may cause it to swell, tear, or bruise. Plantar fasciitis can often lead to other common foot conditions including heel pain, arch pain, and heel spurs.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain at the bottom of the foot where the heel and the arch meet near the inside of the foot. The pain is often described as severe after a prolonged period of rest, and generally subsides as the day progresses.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is over-pronation. Over-pronation is a condition which occurs during the walking process, when the arch of the foot collapses upon weight bearing. This condition causes the plantar fascia to stretch away from the heel bone. Plantar fasciitis can result from a number of different factors which include:
The first step in treating plantar fasciitis is to determine what is causing the plantar fascia to stretch excessively. When the cause is pronation related an orthotic with rearfoot posting and longitudinal arch support is an effective device in allowing the condition to heal by reducing the over-pronation. When the condition is caused by unusually high arches choose footwear that will cushion the heel, absorb shock, and accommodate and comfort the foot.
Other treatment methods include stretching exercises, plantar fasciitis night splints, wearing shoes and orthotics that support the arch of the foot to prevent over-stretching the plantar fascia, wearing heel cradles or heel cups to reduce the amount of shock to the heel while providing extra comfort and cushioning. Running on hard or uneven surfaces should be avoided to reduce the stress and strain on the plantar fascia.
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What Are Shin Splints?
Shin splints are an exercise related, overuse injury commonly experienced by athletes and runners. The condition is an inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the shin bone. The pain often begins as a dull ache along the front or inside of the shin after running or walking, and often develops gradually without any history of trauma. Small bumps and tender areas may be felt adjacent to the shin bone usually about halfway down the shin. Small tears in the leg muscles are often present where the leg muscle is attached to the shin bone. Shin splints are either anterior or posterior. Anterior shin splints occur in the front portion of the shin bone and posterior shin splints occur on the inside of the leg along the shin bone.
What Causes Shin Splints?
Shin splints can be caused when the anterior leg muscles are stressed by running on hard surfaces, running excessively on tip toes, or by sports that involve a lot of jumping. Over-pronation and high foot arches make people more susceptible to shin splints. High foot arches do not absorb shock very well. When shin splints are left untreated there is the risk of increased pain and or developing stress fractures.
How Are Shin Splints Treated and Prevented?
The key factors in preventing shin splints include:
When the condition results from a muscle imbalance, poor running form, or over-pronation the recommended treatment may involve a stretching and strengthening program and insoles or orthotics designed to support the foot and correct the over-pronation.