Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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.
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, causes, and treatments, check out the links we suggest. 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).
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. Get 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