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Feet of a dancer

June 6, 2017

Some time back I was enjoying an American Bluegrass band in a local pub. I was chatting to one of the lads in the band during a break.

"My shins are aching from all the stomping I've being doing on our Irish tour" He said to me rubbing his shins gently.

Many of you will know that I write comic verse, and this was one of those moments that sparked me off. The result I have shared below. It contains  names of eminent international podiatrists, and some technical terms, because it was originally published on 'Podiatry Arena' an international  site which I use to keep up to date and share ideas. Anyways I don't think that will take from your enjoyment of the poem.

The condition that led the poor lad to seek my sympathy was what is commonly referred to as 'shin splints'. Shin splints is not a diagnosis in itself, but a description of a set of symptoms which could result from a number of causes. The most common cause is an inflammation of the sheath surrounding the bone (periosteum). The traction forces produced by the muscle on the periosteum, from frequent 'stomping', would certainly be an example of how shin splints could occur. While it is often associated with vigorous sporting activity I have seen it occur from frequent traversing of steep inclines simply coming and going from home.

Symptoms of shin splints:

Tenderness over the inside of the shin.

Lower leg pain brought on by activity and which eases on rest.

Occasionally swelling or redness.

'lumps and bumps' may be felt along the course of the inside of the shin.

Pain when the foot/ toes are bent down.


Initially treatment is aimed at reducing pain and inflammation. It is essential to identify biomechanical problems or activity patterns which may have led to the injury. Rest and a gradual return to activity will restore the shins to their original condition. Stretching, strengthening, assessing training issues, providing shock absorption and addressing biomechanical problems by the use of orthotics are the mainstays of a treatment programme.

Footloose Irish

All my life I’ve followed music, Bluegrass, or Irish trad,

My Guinness goes down better when there’s good tunes to be had.

Then suddenly the other day, I could not tap a beat,

For all those years of stomping wrecked havoc on my feet.


So, I’ve turned to the Arena, hey, I’ll buy a pint or two,

I’m desperate to get stomping, so now I’ve turned to you.

Simon, Dave or Kevin, it’s to you all I’m saying,

Never in my life, have I had a fuller pain.


All the pulleys, all the levers, you know each notch and grove,

So open up your bag of tricks, and get these feet to move.

Please undo the sticky bits, and let me hit the floor.

Right now I need redemption, for feet that’s tired and sore.


I don’t mind if its Root or Hick’s, and Blake I hear is good,

I’d happily keep on stomping, on two little stumps of wood.

Perhaps my souls inverted, or my snout it does pronate?

While my knee is on excursion, my ankle can’t translate?


You can cast me in alabaster, with flange, or twisted skive,

As long as I keep on stomping, that’s as long as I’ll stay alive.

Give me your best custom, or a one dollar OTC,

Call me back a hundred times and double your standard fee.


You can move my axis, stop my lateral drift,

Slow down the moments of my ambulatory shift,

And when the devil fiddles, he can have my rocker sole,

So long as he gets me stomping, I’ll stomp on his red hot coal.


And when I get back stomping to the music loud and sweet,

I’ll fall upon my knees, to give thanks I’m on my feet.

Just get me back to stomping, keeping time with toe and heel,

To a five string Bluegrass banjo, or the lilt of an Irish reel.

Séamus McNally