Category Archives for "Shin Splints"

A Walk is as Good as a Run

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

More Mesa walk

Do Walk Away! And walk this way.

Are you a runner whose impact days are numbered? Or a walker who wonders whether you need to pick up the pace but really don’t want to?

Happy news for you non-joggers, former runners, and wanna be walkers who want a strong heart without the joint stress. Brisk walking may be as good for your heart health as a run.

Certainly walking isn’t as intense as running. However, both activities target similar muscle groups, which may be why results in improving heart health are so similar. Research suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as how much you go, go go. So move forward; locomote; get your gait on!

Heart Smart Fun Fit Facts

Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity.
  • Enhance mental well being. Think back to walks you’ve taken. Ever start out stressed and come home happy? Mood moment!
    Kila and Liberty on rock

    Walk? Run? We don’t care. Just take us out. Makes our dog hearts happy.

  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer. May not sound sexy, but avoiding disease is pretty important as we age, right?
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See above. Combine it with the fact that women are at greater risk than men for heart disease and we might as well open that front door and get going.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis. I want young personage bones and am willing to walk for them. And you?
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Improve blood lipid profile. Make your doctor happy.
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes. Have you heard that this is one of the fastest growing diseases in the US? Don’t contribute to this stat.

Want some easy, practical walking tips to get you started or rev you up more? Watch our short video on Walking for Weight Loss (and More). Then bust a move to our post Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking to really get the most out of your walks.

Walk For Weight Loss (video)

Take a City Walking Tour

Why is my Lower Body in Pain?

The “Best” Pedometer

More Life and Pep in Your Step

Beach view for Kila and LibertyAnother Fun Fit Fact about walking is that for every hour you perambulate (just had to use that jaunty word), your life expectancy may increase by two hours.  Not only that, but a faster stride may also be a predictor of a longer life. (Convinced yet? Read our post Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?)

Standing during Ranch walk break

Done with Run; Talk about Walk!

Of all the cardio exercise options out there, walking has the lowest dropout rate! It’s the easiest, most accessible, positive change you can make to improve your heart health. And the benefits are exponential. The more you walk, the greater your odds of lowering heart disease risk. What are you walking for?

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Facials, Feet and Fitness

Alexandra Williams, MA
picture at the Vionic party at BlogHer

Headed for a handstand. Or the splits.

Part of active aging is taking care of your feet and face, especially if you walk outdoors as often as I do. If your feet are in pain, you won’t want to walk, dance, stand, run, or anything else that is upright. Except maybe walking on your hands. That’s upright. Or upside right. Something like that.

And I’m fairly vain, but more about looking healthy than young, so I want to have skin that is sunburn-resistant and elastic. Dry and wrinkly is a great way to advertise raisins, not faces.

Foot Care

We’ve talked a bit about these topics before. My article “Your Feet, Your Shoes, Your Choices,” is now accessible to consumers (you had to be a member of the professional fitness association to access the piece in IDEA Fitness Journal when it was first published), so give it a read to get advice from the experts on foot care and footwear.

One of numerous posts on the topic of foot and knee pain (They are linked. You know the song) is by my sister. She shares six strategies for avoiding pain while moving.

If you suffer from shin splints (the problem begins in the foot), you’ll want to read this series:

Shin Splints S.O.S.

Preventing Shin Splints

3 Tips for Preventing Shin Splints

Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches

Vionic teal Luxe slippers

This is the pair I brought home for my sister. I’m so nice.

Of course, I am also particular about the shoes I wear, especially for walking and teaching my group exercise classes. Now I can add slippers to the list of protective footwear. At the BlogHer conference a few weeks ago, sis and I were given some Vionic with Orthaheel slippers. Formerly just producers of medical grade footwear, they now offer sandals, shoes and slippers to everyday consumers too. The Orthaheel technology helps reduce over-pronation, (the most common foot issue). That’s a good thing, as correcting over-pronation can improve foot function and relieve plantar fasciitis, as well as knee and back pain. Recommended by both the American Podiatric Medical Association and Dr. Andrew Weil, I am enjoying wearing them around the house. I don’t think I’ll teach in them.

Skin Care

pic of Alexandra and Kymberly from 1970

Red hair, oily skin, freckles, and some damn fine catwoman glasses.

As kids, we had freckles, fair skin, acne, oily faces, and sunburned easily. As adults, we still have to be careful about our skin even though it’s no longer oily, because we exercise a lot, which means sweat. Additionally, we still sunburn easily and have to be cautious to avoid rosacea. Of course, we have wrinkles too, which we earned, though we aren’t racing to get more. No no no.

Water is a fantastic skin care regimen – it helps cleanse, lubricate and hydrate the skin, as well as removing toxins, but as a Boomer I want more. I also want less. More than just water for my skin. Less stuff that is harmful to my body and aligns with my vegetarian, organic, non-GMO values and practices.

As I’ve aged, I’ve also become more receptive to traditional medicine, which I define as anything that has either been around for thousands of years, or is more aligned with intuition and the “unmeasurable.” I win a lot of stuff – most of you know that I seem to win something every week. And I don’t enter a lot of giveaways. I’m just lucky. I believe it’s my positive energy. Our mom is the same – she would will things to occur. Someday I’ll share the story of how she willed herself to have twins even though no-one else believed her until I was actually born (they had to race to get a second bassinet for Kymberly – the doctor was seriously embarrassed).

Getting a facial with SkinAgain products

Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face. Plenty of room at the Hotel … Orlando.

A few days ago Kymberly and I were given facials using the SkinAgain functional skin care line (they were even gracious enough to give facials to my two boys). Not only are the products vegan, they are also fragrance-, paraben-, gluten- and cruelty-free. And the part that I’m very curious about – they are infused with positive energy (chi, prana, life force – whatever term you use) via a hologram that’s affixed to each product. I asked a lot of questions about this, as I found it fascinating. The owner of SkinAgain refers to it as “collective positive energy infusion,” which to me is about the same thing we get in religion. You may even have participated (or benefited from) intercessory prayer.

My skin can always use positive energy and products, especially on the days when my magic wand is broken.

They sent us home with samples, so my face shall be the test. If only they had sent the estheticians home with us too.

This is not a sponsored post. This is just us sharing info about products that have fused the latest technology and oldest traditions to help deal with our modern, Boomer lives.

save 30% on adidas bags

By the way, if you’re shopping for back-to-school bags (including gym bags and backpacks), we are affiliates with adidas, and they are offering 30% Off adidas Bags right now. This includes their iconic airline bag. No code is needed, just click on the links here. If you make a purchase, we make a small commission. Good all around.

Glasses and Sunglasses

Also, since we’re flashing our catwomans in this post, we should also provide you with a link to our affiliate partner Warby Parker, makers of all kinds of glasses, including fun retro stuff. And for every pair sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. Do good; See well.


Running in Place: Do’s and Don’ts [Video]

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Run In Place with the PackRunning or jogging in place seems so straightforward. Yet done wrong, you will jam your feet, reduce intensity, and not get full benefit. Jogging in place done right makes your cardio workout more successful, minimizes joint stress, and increases intensity. Take a tip or three from us on how to safely and stylishly jog in place.

Baby boomers–did you have a leotard like the one Alexandra flaunts in our video that shows right and wrong way technique? Do you still have it? If so, you’re in Bad Company! Or is that good company? No pack running here. Instead, it’s time to Run Run Run Run Away with Jefferson Starship and that outfit from the early 90s’s!

Alexandra: Yes, I go back to the future to demonstrate four wrong ways to dress and run in place.

Kymberly: I get to show the right ways and I did not need to go on a starship, but I did use these techniques on an airplane!

Check out the interesting comments, questions, and our replies for in place running over on our YouTube channel.   Want still more ways to prevent injury and run safely? Then click that link you just skidded past.

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Which Running Surfaces Are Best?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

The best running surfaces to protect boomer joints, including knees, ankles, hips and spine.

Run on Asphalt. No sidewalksRunners and joggers seem so devoted to running that they head out anytime, anywhere, and on any surface. When we are out walking, we enjoy seeing runners with enviable good joints zipping along. And we worry about their injury potential given some of the surfaces they run on.

If you are a runner or powerwalker who wants to stay as injury free as possible, (especially into midlife) consider what’s under your shoes. The surface you run on can either help protect or hurt your joints. Your foot is hitting that surface thousands of times, and the repeated impact can go straight to those joints.

Follow the Trail of Three “S’s”

Kymberly: When doing a workout with impact, you generally want a surface that offers three qualities: Springback, Shock absorption, and Stability. Isn’t that convenient that they all start with S? On the extreme end of springback is a trampoline. The ultimate shock absorber is sand. The stablest surface is a hard, even one, such as concrete. The ideal running surface combines all three factors without being too soft or too hard. Sounds like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Alexandra: The research is all over the place on the “best” surface, mainly because of the variables, such as your foot placement, shoe type, foot-to-hip angle, previous injuries and so on, but a running tip from the University of California at San Francisco probably sums it up best – “It’s a good idea to train on the environment you’re going to run on and usually that’s asphalt, which makes up most city streets.”

Kymberly: Your underfoot surface is the first line of defense against the shock waves that travel up your body from toe to head with every footfall. Whatever the surface does not absorb, is next taken in by your shoe, then your foot, then your ankle, then lower leg muscles, then knee joint, and so on, traveling up your spine and body.

Consider Foot Strike and Joint Impact

Alexandra: As my dislike for running is well-documented, I can reveal that to me asphalt means, “My Ass is at Fault for you getting distracted.” Boom Shacka Lacka. I used to run when I played soccer, but the gopher holes in the grass trashed my knee. So I definitely do NOT like running on grass, even though research indicates it to be a forgiving surface. Some really recent research found that runners unconsciously adapt their footfall patterns to the type of surface they’re running on, which is quite interesting. For me, I don’t care as much about where my foot strikes the ground, but how much my reconstructed knee feels the impact. Which means I prefer indoor tracks to almost anything outdoors, especially concrete. If I had a track locally like the Regupol that Usain Bolt ran on for his Berlin Golds, I might even try running a bit. Say, maybe they could make soccer fields out of it so I could play my beloved sport again. It’s recycled and so is my knee!

Dear Santa, please bring all these men good knees (and some sense)

Dear Santa, please bring all these men good knees (and some sense)

Kymberly: Dear Sis: Shouldn’t that be “BoomER Shacka Lacka?” Sha boomer bam! For the rest of you, picture concrete. Stable, yes. But no springback; no cushioning. Run-thunk-run-thunk-run-ouch! And where oh where is there a lot of concrete out there? Sidewalks! And what’s right next to a lot of sidewalks? Porous, springy, impact absorbing asphalt or pavement. And grass. (Lawn ranks up there with both runners and researchers as a good, protective surface.) Yet, I repeatedly see runners pounding it out on the sidewalk. Unless traffic or some other safety issue prevents it, why not run on more joint-friendly asphalt?

barefoot running on wet sand

If I run on wet sand will I get calves like these…with the guy attached?

Other run- and walk-friendly surfaces include most modern indoor and outdoor tracks. Heck, dirt and trails or hard, flat sand are better than concrete when it comes to dealing with impact. Gopher holes are another matter altogether though!

Dirt trail for runners, joggers, walkersSo when you next lace up your running, trail, powerwalking, go get ‘em workout shoes,  pick surfaces that offer three “S’s”: Springback, Shock Absorption and Stability. Did I say “three”? I meant four. Add in “Sweat.” And take out Sidewalks.

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Run safely over to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Photo credits: Barefoot runner –  sundero; Santa runners – historygradguy (jobhunting)



Prevent Shin Splints: 3 Calf Stretches

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dem bones, Dem bones, Dem Dry bones!

Shin splints are often the result of imbalance between the calf and shin muscles. When the calf (gastrocnemius) is much stronger or tighter than the shin (anterior tibialis), micro tears can occur as the relatively overdeveloped calf pulls on its pair — the shin. Making sure you have flexible, long calf muscles will put the odds in your favor to avoid this painful condition.

The foot bone connected to the ankle bone, The ankle bone connected to the shin bone, The shin bone connected to the knee bone, The knee bone connected to the thigh bone, The thigh bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the back bone, The back bone connected to the shoulder bone, The shoulder bone connected to the neck bone, The neck bone connected to the head bone, Them bones got up and walked around. – Lyrics from the song Dry Bones by the Delta Rhythm Boys

Color the the shin bone S for Stretched & Sexy!

If you want your bones and muscles to get up and walk around, you have to keep them happy. Our singing does not necessarily make our bones happy! But stretching, well, that’s a solution of a different horse!

Try the 3 calf stretches you’ll see in our video to keep your calves from overpowering your anterior tib.

Want more ways to prevent shin splints? Check out our prior two posts on the subject:

Shin Splints highlighted on the anterior tibialis

You shoulda been stretching instead of playing with that highlighter!

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Photo credits: horse:  doe-c-doe, leg drawing:  rosswilliamdrew, highlighted shin splint:  Northcoast Footcare.



3 Tips for Preventing Shin Splints [Video]

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

See how painful that looks? Only your heart should look this red and throbbing!

Do you want to prevent shin splints? Apparently many of you do as “shin splints” is our site’s most popular search term. (Yeah, we peeked). Our previous post about preventing shin splints is one of our “top sellers” (except it’s free to read).




The 3 tips in the video below will help you prevent shin splints. You’ll see more in future posts on what to do before and  after  shin pain. For now, take a look at this short video:


Key for you to know is that the shin (anterior tibialis) and calf (gastrocnemius, plus five other calf muscles  work as a team. Most people shower too much attention on the calf, and neglect the shin. The calf gets big and bossy and tries to exert constant force on the little tib. This makes the shin very envious and it shows its displeasure by becoming stressed and painful. If you give the shin a bit more love (that is secret code for “more training”) it will be happy and joyous and take you all kinds of places pain-free.

Have you ever had shin splints? What did you do to recover?

Photo Courtesy of Mayo Clinic

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Preventing Shin Splints

Dear F&F: I started running in 2010 and quickly discovered that my weak arches are what caused the leg pain I experienced, the knee pain (kneecap slides) and the bursitis that formed just below my knee.  But, I’ve worked on taping the knees and strengthening the muscle there.

While training lately for a half marathon, I often get shin splints along the inside of my calf as well as up the front.  I know I have to rest it, then strengthen that front muscle. What are good exercises to work that muscle?  Amy, @splintergirl

Picture of shin splints

All that red looks like a giant, painful splinter!

Alexandra: Hey Amy, we are almost BFFs now, because you are so good about sending us questions (we just answered one from Amy about half marathons). We moved your question up the queue since we know your race is pretty soon. First of all, you have to be pain free before you can do strengthening exercises. Freeze water in a Dixie cup. Before and after your runs, ice down your shins, peeling away the cup as the ice melts.

Kymberly: Not to shirk my duty here, but my advice is to check with your medical professional. I always advocate solving the root of the problem, which are weak arches, in your case. Why are they weak? What is causing their collapse? All the issues you describe emanate from the arch collapse, so until you address the biomechanical or anatomical issues there, you will always be playing catch up with your injuries. I feel like the grinch of running, but there it is. Think of it this way — you have an issue at the bottom of your body — the arches. You feel a problem higher up the body — the shins, and not surprisingly the pain travels higher, reaching your knees. Next up the chain– back pain. Do you see where I am going with this? Up and up unless you go back down, all the way down to the arches. Solve that issue and the others get solved as well.

Nevertheless, we can and do offer you some ideas for strengthening your shin area as you work to resolve the original problem of collapsed arches. Does that get me out of grinch status to ultimate “gifter?”

A: Another thing – get an insole insert to go under your arch. Shin splints occur with over pronation or overuse, and inflammation occurs due to the injury at the posterior peroneal tendon and anterior portion of the lower leg. So you need to keep the arch up to prevent overuse of those muscles that lift your foot. And break in the inserts in before your race.

K: Surprise, surprise, but Alexandra and I don’t always agree. For instance, I am not a big fan of inserts. At most, use them temporarily or the muscles that are designed to lift your arch will atrophy even more. Will inserts help get you through this race more safely and with less pain? Probably. The long term solution is to strengthen the tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior, and the foot musculature.

Try barefoot sand walking (I was about to say “beach walking” but not everyone is as lucky as a ducky to live near a beach). Also do heel raises, standing barefoot and lifting in an almost pigeon-toed direction with the toes straight ahead and the ankles thrusting outwards as you rise up. (You can see the move in this short video from “not us”). This exercise will specifically help the posterior tibialis and cut down on the pain you are describing.

Lastly, maybe change your twitter handle from “splintergirl” to something that avoids the word “splints” and does not sound so painful. Yowzah!

Picture credit: Mayo Clinic

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA



Footwear or Not to Wear? That is the Question

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Hey guys, what do you know about shoes for aerobics and Zumba? A lot of people are wearing really lightweight, even Mary Jane kind of shoes. Is that enough support? My friend Jan was wearing the new flexible shoes and she got a tendon problem and the doctor said wear higher topped shoes.

Debbie Goleta, CA

flexible shoes

Do These Make My Toes Look Fat?

Alexandra: Well Debbie, you have hit (or kicked) upon a topic that is getting lots of attention lately, mostly because of the 5-finger shoes! (And I don’t get why they’re called 5 “fingers” when they go on your toes. Unless they think calling them “5-toe shoes” makes us comparable to sloths)

3 toed sloth

For a 3-Toed Sloth, this IS Exercise

When I first started teaching aerobics, we all wore running shoes (and leg warmers) because that’s all there was. And we all got shinsplints (and bad 80s hair). So naturally we blamed them on the running shoes, never realizing that the cement floors might have been part of the problem.

Now, after many years espousing cardio shoes for cardio, and cross-trainers for cross training, biomechanists and podiatrists are saying it’s more important to match the shoes to your foot style than to the exercise. Some of them also say that our feet have gotten lazy from shoes that do too much for us! Better our feet should be happy:

Kymberly: The current thought is that most exercise shoes are over-engineered and that people are relying too much on the shoe and not allowing their feet and sensory receptors to do what they are designed to do. Sometimes injuries come when we finally ask our feet to do their own work. If the movement patterns or biomechanics are off, a different, better, worse, or no shoe can throw the body into pain. Personally I’d look first at Jan’s movement patterns and see if her biomechanics are exacerbating the tendon problem. Then I’d get the footwear and nagging in place to address that.

And, I still suggest a workout shoe for workouts, though with as few bells and whistles as possible. Alexandra wrote an extensive article about choosing the right (or no) shoe, which you’ll find helpful (if you like research and all that).

A: When Jan is all healed up and ready once again to kick it up a notch , have her read this 10-step program for suggestions about easing into her new lightweight shoes. Get it? Ten steps? That’s just how we roll! Or run. Okay, walk slowly…more like a mosey or meander really.

Dear readers: What has been your experience with lightweight, flexible or “barefoot” shoes? And do you have an urge to put on some toe socks?

Colorful toe socks

Toe Socks - Sucky or Sexy?



Photo Credits: Creative Commons – Chris Happel, Morag Casey, Le Melody



How Do I Cure Shin Splints from Running?

Dear Fun and Fit: Please help my poor shins! It’s been years since I ran so much and forgot to take care so as NOT to get shin splints. 🙁   Sherry Atlanta, Georgia

Kymberly: Last time I got a plea like this it involved Nigeria and sending money to a dethroned prince. I am prepared to send you good advice at half the price. Yes, for a definition of shin splints, check out this link. Even better, if you want to understand the causes and treatments, try the solutions in our posts on the subject of shin splints:


Then send money to me, but preferably more than the dollar or two you stashed in your running shoes.

Alexandra: I’ll give you free advice if you promise to make sense of the complete lyrics to Ice Ice Baby. It would seem you increased the duration a wee bit too enthusiastically (and maybe overpronated).ICE for shin splints
1. Ice the shin.

2. When your shins feel better (not while you are still in pain), strengthen the muscle (anterior tibialis). You can do this with toe (up) taps. By this I mean, don’t focus on tapping your toes on the floor; focus on lifting the toes up. This will hurt a lot if you do it before you are feeling better. For expert tapping hints, have Savion Glover come over and make-out with help you.
3. Dozens of Pairs of Running ShoesGet some inserts for your shoes, especially if you’re going to be the bad girl of fitness and run before you’re all healed. And consider new shoes as yours may be worn out and no longer supporting your foot, ankle, leg and high sense of fashion.
4. Become at one with the simple word “stretch.” As in, “Oh, I just ran for 72 miles (or 2 – but it would feel like 72 to me). Maybe now I should stretch out my shins by pointing my toe and holding for at least 15 seconds.”

K: 5. Stretch your calf – the muscle buddy to your shin (aka agonist and antagonist muscle pair in high-falootin’ circles.) A lot of shin splint trauma comes from an imbalance between the strong, tight, shortened, strong, bossy Alexandra calf and the comparably petite, underloved, underdeveloped, underworked, weak anterior tib. Reduce the pull on the shin from the calf by lengthening the calf with mucho stretching.
If you run again–and we hope you do, someone has to–try to stay on surfaces that absorb impact, such as asphalt, tracks, grass, cardio equipment. Avoid surfaces that have no springback or cushion such as CONCRETE. Translation – sidewalks! Even the best shoes and strongest shins cannot overcome the jarring effect of concrete pounding. Even the strongest of twins cannot overcome the jarring effects of my sister whining when she has to run (for cover).

Readers: What are your tricks to prevent or cure shin splints? Are you secretly harboring any Vanilla Ice recordings?

Photo credits: Creative Commons and Photobucket

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA