Netball is the most popular female sport in Australia, with women and children alike participating in the high-intensity, fast-paced game. But with every dodge, intercept or ‘break’, comes the potential for injury.
As the netball season intensifies and the expectations at training, game days and carnivals rise, we see a myriad of new aches and pains; with the most common being shin splints.
The injury is extremely common for netballers, due to the many bursts of rapid acceleration, sudden and swift changes in direction throughout the game, and the hard surfaces of the courts.
How to tell if you’re experiencing shin splints:
- Painful along front and inside bottom half of lower leg
- Painful to touch
- Exercising increases pain
- Stretching increases pain
- Pain reduces once you have warmed up, but returns once you have cooled down
If your pain continues from the start of a game to the finish, this can represent a more severe case of shin splints or possible compartment syndrome. It is recommended to seek professional diagnosis in any case.
What are shin splints?
Also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS), the term ‘shin splints’ is colloquially used to describe pain from a few inches above the ankle, to halfway up the shin bone. Pain can be present on any part of the lower leg, and is caused by the tibial bone having small ‘crack-like’ stress fractures along the point of muscle insertions.
While generally diagnosed as an ‘overuse’ injury, players are at a higher risk when exposed to certain biomechanical and anatomical risk factors, as this causes the tibia to undergo excessive stress. Some examples include:
- Tight calf and hamstring muscles
- Undiagnosed limb length differences
- Excessive foot pronation (rolling in at the heel or arches)
Due to the complexity associated with diagnosing shin splints, and the many different causes and underlying risk factors, getting a professional diagnosis from a podiatrist is key to a quick and full recovery. A podiatrist will assess your lower limbs and feet, to determine any/all predisposing factors that may be causing poor shock absorption or musculature imbalance.
Following the completion of a biomechanical assessment, gait analysis and pressure scanning, a podiatrist can correctly diagnose whether you are suffering from shin splints or another condition, determine the best course of treatment and provide you with a rehabilitation program.
At my FootDr, our podiatrists can quickly and effectively identify and treat your case of shin splints, to ensure you are pain-free and at your peak performance for the remainder of the netball session. Treatment and management once diagnosed may include:
- Correct and effective stretching plan
- Proper footwear advice
- Advice on training programs for preventing reoccurrence
- Biomechanical corrective full-length soft sports orthotics
my FootDr Cairns is a proud sponsor of Cairns Netball.