Floppy ankles… I see them on an almost daily basis, calves so tight that as soon as my clients lay down on the treatment table their ankles flop forward as if preparing to dance for ‘The Royal Ballet’. For many reasons it appears that our calves have shortened up. Be it the high heels we wear, the amount we train or simply the time we spend on our feet, what is certain is that tight calves prevail.
So what have these floppy ankles got to do with sore and tender shins? Shin splints, for any of you have suffered from this painful condition, are caused by the muscles and tendons that attach to the shin bone (the Tibia) pulling on the bone and causing ache and sometimes acute pain. Its generally not the bone that is hurting but the tendons themselves from being overly tight and strained. This muscle that attaches to the front of the shin is the Tibialis Anterior which dorsi-flexes the ankle (pulls your toes towards your head) and also inverts the ankle. Treatment can focus on releasing the tension in this muscle, massage, stretching and the like to relieve the pressure and pulling on the shin bone. But have you been doing this yet not seeing any results?
Well look again – are you or your client of the ‘Floppy Ankle’ variety? If so then consider this: if the muscles at the back of the leg are constantly pulling your ankle into plantar flexion (pointing of the toes) then the opposing muscles, in this case the Tibialis Anterior is being constantly pulled and strained. Logic would therefore have it that in order to give relief to the shin you actually need to be releasing and stretching the muscles at the back of the lower leg. Believe me it is a lot easier to stretch the calves then the Tibialis Anterior!