Highland Highlights

By Loraine Ritchey

The following is an excerpt from June 2001 "Dancer" and an article, which appeared in an earlier publication on Shin Splints.

April found the SOHDA presenting the "British National Dance Championships". The dances chosen for this years' programme were as follows: -

1. Huntley Fling 2. Tribute to Bobby Cuthbertson 3. Sailors' Hornpipe 4. Irish Jig 5. Linkumdoddie 6. Flora MacDonald's Fancy 7. Hebridean Laddie 8. Scotch Measure 9. Scottish Lilt 10. Blue Bonnets

The dancers also performed the Carronlea Circle........The dance was composed to emulate and is loosely based on the Industrial Past of , the very famous, "Carron Iron Works" in the town of Falkirk. Many historians attribute The Carron Iron Works to the birth of the Industrial Revolution. The "lea" in Carronlea is a word which means "meadow". The dance depicts that the area was, at one time Rural then became a Heavy Industrial Area and eventually returning to a Rural area again. Carron Iron Works was at the time built around an area which attracted many heavy industries eg. Coal Mining, Steel Works, Iron Works etc. and was, at the time, built on a sea estuary. "Circle" depicts the way that "Life and Nature" evolves.

The very prestigious event found the Deputy Provost of Falkirk Robert Spears giving the awards. The youngest dancer,Anthea Bundy (five years old) became the youngest champion when she "scooped at British title". Anthea won five first places before lifting the overall baby group trophy. Anthea said her proud mum "we couldn't believe it she has had to learn seven dances since Christmas and it was a lot of hard work. But she just loves dancing and really enjoyed the whole day" (Falkirk Herald).

Anthea and the dancers who perpetuate the dances of Scotland all should be applauded for their hard work and success.


Shin splints is a non-specific term for an overuse syndrome affecting the lower leg. Poorly conditioned and new dancers are especially susceptible to this condition. Usually shin splint pain is found on the inside edge of the lower two thirds of the tibia (shin bone). The pain is commonly attributed to tendonitis of the posterior tibialis tendon and/or other ankle flexor muscle tendons along the tibia. The posterior tibialis muscle is the main supporter of the inside arch, and gets quite a workout in Highland dance. Other conditions that can elicit pain on the shin area are irritation around the bones, stress fractures and compartment syndrome.


To prevent or reduce the severity of shin splints, one must have an understanding of the 3 contributing factors so that effective preventive measures can be included in the dancers' overall training program.

1. Biomechanical: Check for excessive foot pronation (rolling inward while in 1st, for example), excessive turn in and other foot conditions such as flat feet, fallen arches, excessively high or low arches.

2. Muscular Strength and Flexibility: Often the Achilles is too tight as well as being overdeveloped when compared to other muscles at the front of the lower leg.

3. The training program (practice sessions and lessons) may be designed so that they are exceeding the physical limitations of the dancer and not allowing him/her to progress at a planned, incremental rate.

The next steps in a shin splint prevention program include:

Flexibility exercises to include the low back, hamstrings and Achilles tendon.

Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals and anterior muscles of the lower leg.

Dance on a "giving" surface as much as possible as opposed to cement.

Use non-weight bearing activities such as biking and swimming in the overall training program.

Be sure to use proper methods of pre-practice warm up and post-practice cool down.

Be aware of the initial signs of shin splints, i.e. generalized pain in the lower inside shin after activity and possible pain in the area of the main arch of the foot.


After diagnosis by a physician, rehabilitation should start immediately. Modified activity is important. While your dancer is showing signs of shin splints, take time off from dancing. Stationary biking and running (dancing) in water are excellent alternatives. Besides biking and aquatics while not dancing, ice massage, oral anti-inflammatories (if tolerated) and work on correcting the biomechanical problems should be done, i.e. excessive rolling of the feet, too short Achilles tendons. Once your dancer's symptoms subside and they do start back to dancing, be sure they start at a level of intensity that is lower than before their injury. Use slow progressive steps to get them back to pre-injury levels gradually. For example, if they practiced 1 hours a day pre-injury, start back at 15 to 20 minutes a day for a week. If, after a week, there are no increases in discomfort then increase by 5 minutes a day each week until you reach the level you want. In other words, if you danced 20 minutes a day for a week with no problems, increase to 25 minutes per day for a week, and so on. Also, heat pre-exercise, ice post exercise, stretch (both anterior and posterior lower leg muscles) and strengthen the muscle groups mentioned above, but pay close attention to the anterior muscles of the lower leg. As is basic to any overuse type injury, the muscles are unable to handle the stresses placed on them. Although it is a muscular injury we are discussing here, faulty biomechanical factors probably play larger role in this problem than, say, dancing one day on a concrete floor. You may have started feeling the symptoms after dancing on the concrete, but the problem may ultimately lie in a biomechanical fault. Before allowing the dancer to return to competition, the biomechanical and training errors must be corrected This point cannot be overemphasized. Without proper corrections, the chance of re-injury is very high.

As always for Questions and Comments, I can be reached at

Loraine Ritchey, 1127.W. 4th Street, Lorain, Ohio, 44052.