Written by Jon
As someone who loves to run, I, like many others, have come across injuries in my time. One of which has plagued me for a few months now. The shin splints. It’s a very generic term for pain that you have in the shin region during or after your runs. Shin splints have stopped me going the distances I want to go, therefore, before I kicked off my training for the Star Media City2Surf 2018, I went for a foot check with SportsMed to try to find a cure.
I went to see Greg Woolman, who is ones of the most qualified and experienced podiatrists in NZ, working with many elite athletes and top sports teams around the country. When I arrived, Greg and I had an in depth chat about my running experience, where I run, and some details on the pain I was having. It was great to hear my worries be evaluated and validated by a professional.
Greg started with a detailed analysis of my feet. They were analysed with me on my back, on my front and then standing in certain positions for an all round look. The movement of my ankles was checked and the calf flexibility was evaluated. It turns out I’ve got rather tight calves! That was the first area of concern for Greg and something I need to work on in the coming weeks.
From the photo of my feet here, you’ll be able to see that my second toe is longer than my big toe. This is what Greg diagnosed as Morton’s Foot. From this, it was determined that my feet had flat arches and a probable tendency of overpronation. This is where your feet roll in from the ankle when under pressure. Interestingly, a large proportion of people with Morton’s Foot type pronate excessively.
So from here, we headed to the treadmill. SportsMed have an excellent set up with a camera located behind the runner to determine any issues with foot position. Greg stated that I did pronate, but not to a high degree.
The technology used really helped me understand what my feet were doing when I was running. As you can see in the above image, there is a slight bend inwards at the ankle. Greg deemed that this, along with the use of an orthotic I was using that was too firm, was a contributing factor to the onset of my shin splints. It is sometimes a game of trial and error with shin splints. Greg used the analogy of a headache, with which is it tricky to determine the exact factor as there are so many possibilities.
We headed back into the office and Greg heated up some new orthotics for me. Greg chose a soft orthotic to subtly “support” the foot as opposed to “correct” the foot position. He also said that orthotics should be comfortable, with the softer types offering great cushioning and comfort. I was given a pair of Footbiotics and told I could run on those immediately. You will see the images below comparing my old orthotics (blue) and my new ones. The rigid nature of the underside of my old blue orthotics was perfect for inside a ski boot (as originally prescribed to me), but not so good for the constant impact put on the feet when running.
This week, I will be out on the streets testing out my new running gear. I need to keep an open mind with my treatment and realise that it does not give me the right to go and run a marathon straight away, but over time, I hope to be pain free when running.
I am booked in to see Greg once more next week so he can check on my progress. I was incredibly impressed with the knowledge of the staff at SportsMed, as well as the set up they have there. I’m really looking forward to my return next week, but hope I don’t have to revisit too many more times! Stay tuned to hear how I got on.