Following on from our blog this week on the Glutes, we are finishing up the week, discussing the Shank!
What is the shank?
The shank is the lower portion of your leg, stretching from your knee to your ankle. This part of your body plays a vital role in power/force transfer, foot and knee health.
The major muscles of this area are your calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus), Tibialis anterior (surface muscle on the front of your shin) and Tibialis posterior. This is a very quick summary of one of the most complex anatomical areas of the body with many different muscles used to control the foot and toes.
Common injuries to the shank
The shank can be a major source of discomfort when ignored. Some of the more common conditions seen in this area are as follows:
Collapsed arches of your feet
Contributing factors— The Tibialis posterior muscle plays a vital role in maintaining a good foot arch by putting upward pressure on the inside of your foot. A strong arch allows for proper movement at the knee and hip and decreases the susceptibility of plantar Fasciitis.
Potential treatment— Using several variations of static and dynamic calf raises, you can train your Tibialis posterior to provide the arch support that you need.
Contributing factors— Common in runners and jumping athletes, Achilles Tendinopathy is the result of chronic overuse of the calf muscles.
Potential treatment — High load, isometric movements have been a common go-to treatment to decrease Tendinopathy pain and/or risk of future Tendinopathy for many years. A focus on concentric and eccentric contractions with progressive overload has recently developed. Loading the Achilles’ tendon in this manner will create a stronger, more resilient tissue better prepared to handle the loads of running and jumping. Furthermore, a strong tendon will result in less energy “leaks”, improving performance and lower chances of injury!
Chronic ankle instability
Contributing factors — previous sprained ankles leading to rest as well as ankle ligaments with high laxity and a general lack of strength in muscles preventing the ankle from “rolling” can lead to chronic ankle instability.
Potential treatment— depending on the timeline of previous injury, dynamic stability and ankle strengthening in the direction you are most commonly rolling your ankle can provide increased stability, even in the presence of ligaments that provide little support.
Contributing factors— This inflammation of the front of your shin is nearly exclusively present as an overuse injury. Adolescents experiencing significant growth spurts are at a marked increase risk of developing shin splints.
Potential treatment— A stretching program to the area of discomfort can provide some short term relief, supported by a shin-splint specific strengthening program, can assist in managing shin splints long term.
Hips, Knees, Ankles and Toes
Just the same as underdeveloped or weak Glutes can lead to knee valgus and arch collapse, a poor arch will provide a poor base, which will promote knee valgus and poor hip mechanics.
All the information in this blog is very general in nature. In order to properly assess your exercise needs, it is important to consult an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Contact Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology on 1300 964 002 for an initial consult out of Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick locations.