As a high school athlete, you know that injuries can be a frustrating setback. Two common injuries that often plague athletes like yourself are shin splints and plantar fasciitis. These conditions can be painful and limit your ability to perform at your best. But fear not! In this blog post, we will explore why these injuries occur and provide you with a holistic approach to healing them.
Understanding Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis
Shin splints and plantar fasciitis are both overuse injuries that occur due to repetitive stress on the muscles and tissues in your lower legs and feet. Here’s a brief overview of each condition:
Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, cause pain along the shinbone (tibia). They are often caused by activities that involve running, jumping, or sudden changes in intensity. The repetitive stress on the muscles and connective tissues in your lower legs can lead to inflammation and pain.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in the heel or arch of the foot. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that supports the arch, becomes inflamed or irritated. This condition is commonly seen in athletes who engage in activities that involve running or jumping.
Holistic Healing Approaches
To holistically heal shin splints and plantar fasciitis, it’s important to address the root causes of these injuries and implement a comprehensive healing plan. Here are some key strategies to consider:
1. Stretching and Strengthening
Proper stretching and strengthening exercises can help alleviate pain and prevent future injuries. Focus on stretching the calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia. Strengthening exercises for the lower leg muscles can also help improve stability and reduce the risk of re-injury.
2. Deep Water Running and Conditioning
Deep water running is a low-impact exercise that can provide cardiovascular benefits without putting stress on your lower legs and feet. Incorporating deep water running into your training routine can help maintain your fitness level while allowing your injuries to heal. Additionally, conditioning exercises such as swimming and cycling can help improve overall strength and endurance.
3. Feldenkrais Somatic Re-Education
Feldenkrais somatic re-education is a gentle movement therapy that focuses on improving body awareness and movement patterns. This approach can help you identify and correct any imbalances or compensations that may contribute to your injuries. Working with a certified Feldenkrais practitioner can provide valuable insights and techniques to support your healing process.
4. Proper Return Program
When recovering from shin splints or plantar fasciitis, it’s crucial to follow a proper return program. Gradually reintroduce activities and increase intensity over time to avoid re-injury. Consult with a sports medicine professional, physical therapist, or sports performance coach to create a personalized plan that suits your specific needs.
- Identify and Address Compensation Patterns: Shin splints and plantar fasciitis can lead to compensation patterns, where other muscles and joints in the kinetic chain try to compensate for the injured area. It’s important to identify these compensations and address them during your return program. Work with a sports medicine professional or physical therapist to assess your movement patterns and develop exercises that target specific areas of weakness or imbalance.
- Focus on Core Stability: Core stability plays a crucial role in maintaining proper biomechanics throughout the kinetic chain. Weakness or instability in the core can lead to compensations and increased stress on the lower legs and feet. Incorporate exercises that target the core muscles, such as planks, bridges, and rotational movements, into your return program. Building a strong and stable core will help establish correct biomechanics and reduce the risk of re-injury.
- Gradual Progression and Technique Refinement: As you progress through your return program, focus on gradually increasing the intensity and volume of your activities while maintaining proper technique. It’s important to refine your movement patterns and ensure that you’re using correct biomechanics throughout the kinetic chain. This may involve working with a coach or trainer who can provide feedback and guidance on your form. By gradually progressing and refining your technique, you’ll establish correct biomechanics and reduce the likelihood of future injuries.
As a high school athlete, it’s important to prioritize your health and well-being. Shin splints and plantar fasciitis may be common injuries, but with a holistic approach to healing, you can overcome them and get back to doing what you love.
Remember to incorporate stretching, deep water running and conditioning, Feldenkrais somatic re-education, and follow a proper return program. By taking care of your body and addressing the root causes of these injuries, you’ll be on your way to a successful and injury-free athletic journey.