For the last two years I have not been playing on the field in my soccer team. The year before last, I was playing goalie which meant that I didn’t have to do much fitness work during the year. So I got lazy and my fitness dropped. Last year I injured my wrists due to a series of factors; soccer goal keeping, excessive writing and typing (on my laptop) for school, etc. I developed RSI (a repetitive strain injury) in both wrists because of these repetitive motions. My wrists are much better now, but I’m still unable to write or type for extended periods of time.
Fast forward to the beginning of the year.
I just joined a new team, a higher level team, so I wanted to prove myself. Pre-season training was tough, and my fitness was not great but it greatly improved all of that month. However after training sessions my legs would feel really sore and my calves would be really tight. After a couple weeks I realised that I had actually injured myself, so I started going to a physiotherapist.
I played the very first game of the season, aaaand then could not play any more. That game was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
What made the whole thing even more dramatic was the fact that my physio couldn’t actually diagnose what was wrong with my legs. At first he thought it was just muscle soreness after such intense training sessions after two years of very little running. Then he thought it could be compartment syndrome, so he sent me off to a specialist.
If you’ve never heard of compartment syndrome, then you are lucky because it sucks!
Compartment Syndrome occurs when pressure buildings up in your limbs. There are two types; acute (which is generally caused by breaking bones) and chronic (which is what they thought I had). The only cure is surgery, to release the pressure build up. But this type of surgery is risky. The way to confirm whether is it compartment syndrome is to do a needle pressure test, which is uncomfortable and invasive. So I decided to wait and see, because I don’t like being poked with sharp objects.
But the problem with me, was that I didn’t actually have all the symptoms of compartment syndrome. I did not have the classic numbness and pins-and-needles feeling. All I had was pain.
I ended up going to a sports doctor, who has known me for many years for my numerous injuries (right ankle, left ankle, right ankle, and wrists). He finally decided that no, I did not have compartment syndrome.
I just about cried with relief!
Instead, he told me that I probably had shin splints.
There are many variations of shin splints, as the term is so widely used. Some professional athletes are even able to keep playing with the condition. (Apparently it is very common in AFL, soccer, and tennis). My treatment is to slowly build the strength back up in my legs, through exercising in a gym, swimming, and cycling.
My goal is to be able to play soccer for my team next year.