Tag Archives: injuries

Running Injuries 101: Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common injury, especially in new runners.  They are painful but usually come with a much quicker recovery time than the dreaded stress fracture.  Read on to discover more about shin splints.

What: Shin splints is the common name for the official medical condition known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It causes pain along the long bone in the front of the lower leg called the tibia and is frequently seen in runners, especially new ones or those increasing mileage.

Cause: Shin splints are caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons and tissues surrounding the tibia. This inflammation can result from a sudden change in training routines, an increase in intensity or a poor foot strike due to weak hips, over pronation and a lack of core strength.

Symptoms: Symptoms of shin splints include tenderness and soreness along the length of the tibia and inner leg as well as possible swelling of the lower leg. Sometimes the pain will go away shin splintsas activity continues but eventually it becomes constant. Of course, if you’re having serious constant pain, getting an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture is always a good idea.

Treatments: Shin splints are usually treated with rest, ice four times a day for 15-20 minutes and mild anti-inflammatories. Compression sleeves are a good way to provide additional support and warmth to weaker areas during healing.

Recovery: During the healing process, it’s important to swap out your high impact activity that caused the injury for lower impact activities like swimming, water running and biking. You’ll also want to spend some time doing range of motion and strength training exercises that will help your body move correctly and prevent shin splints from occurring. Once you’re healed, slowly rebuild high impact activities back in being sure to give your bones, tissues and muscles time to toughen up.

Coach Meredith

*This post was originally written for and published on The Runner Dad*

5 Tips to Protect Your Feet

Your feet take the full impact of every step you walk, jog, skip or run.  Working to protect your feet from injury and ailment is one of the best ways to make sure your running season isn’t cut short.  Home to 100+ ligaments, 33 joints and 26 bones, neglecting your feet can, and for many runners eventually does, lead to some seriously not fun problems like athlete’s foot, blisters and plantar fasciitis.  Use these five tips to take care of your feet and stay healthy all season long.

Find the right shoes.  One of the best ways to protect your feet is to wear the correct shoes.  There are thousands of options available, making sure you’ll find the right one might take a little work.  Try different brands and models after you have a special fitting and make sure they’re protect your feetbig enough to let your toes spread out.  Too small shoes lead to black toenails while too narrow shoes mean blisters and too little support can cause IT band pain, plantar fasciitis and potentially stress factures.

Love those shoes.  Keep tabs on the treads and retire them before the materials are completely degraded, typically 300-500 miles.  Know that wear and tear also depends on what type of runner you are.  If you run on roads rather than trails, if you’re heavy or tall, if you stride isn’t smooth, shoes can wear out sooner.

You’ll also want to invest in more than one pair for those rainy days.  Wet shoes are not only heavy, they can lead to blisters, itching and fungus.  Dry wet shoes by removing the insoles and placing them in indirect heat out of the sunlight while you’re out running in another pair.

Wear good socks.  Your feet will sweat.  With 125,000 sweat glands, it’s inevitable.  Wearing good socks will help your feet stay dry and can help prevent fungi like athlete’s foot from developing.  Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking socks are the best way to protect your feet from dampness and always have a clean, dry pair handy.  Dry shoes and dry socks are a good way to prevent foot and toenail fungus from ruining your next run.

Give them a rub down.  Your feet take a beating during any run and a little extra attention protect your feetafter a workout can help them stay happy and healthy.  A self-massage with your hands, a lacrosse ball, a foot roller or even a golf ball is a great way to relax and recover.  You can also try a professional massage or even step up to reflexology.

Strong feet are healthy feet.  I wrote about this here, too, but it can’t be said enough.  Your feet are an integral part of making running a miserable experience or an awesome one.  The stronger they are, the safer they’ll be.  Strengthen and protect your feet by practicing barefoot one leg balance, wearing flat shoes, or no shoes at all, as often as possible.

Use these five tips to protect your feet from fungus, blisters and muscle strains so you can stay on the road all season long.

Coach Meredith

Proprioception: Become A Better Runner

Proprioception is a big scientific word but learning to love it it can help you become a better runner.  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Proprioception (n) as ‘the reception of stimuli produced within the organism’.  Dictionary.com give a slightly more friendly definition: perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one’s body.  Proprioceptors are sensors in all of our muscles and tendons that help control balance.  That second definition makes it pretty easy to see how improving our proprioception could help our running performance.  Better balance means after steps and the more aware we are of what, how and when our body is doing something, the more efficient we can become at responding to it.

Have you ever had an ankle injury?  Exercises to improve proprioception were probably part of your rehab plan.  Why?  Exercising the proprioceptors helps strengthen ankles and feet.  You never know what you’ll come across when you’re running, especially on trails and once we’re injured, the damaged proprioceptors have trouble functioning properly.  Failing to reteach them to work correctly can ultimately lead to more injuries on the same joint and new injuries on rocky, uneven or unpredictable terrain.  Unfortunately, injuries aren’t the only thing that gets in the way of hardworking proprioceptors.  Wearing shoes all the time takes our feet away from the ground, dulls our senses and makes us visually dominant.  Waiting for our eyes to see something and tell our brain what to do is a very slow process compared to an immediate response from the correct muscles.  A better response means better balance.

To test your proprioception, stand on one foot and close your eyes.  If you immediately start to wobble and put your other foot on the ground, it’s time to go to work.  Here are exercises to proprioceptionadd to your daily routine that will build better balance, improve proprioception and help you become a better runner.

Go barefoot as often as possible.  Take a few minutes each day to work on single leg balance exercises, progressing to do them with your eyes closed.  Eventually, add a balance board or a few BOSU balls.  Both are great additions to any workout collection.  The unstable surfaces challenge your body to respond quickly to what’s happening under your feet and are good tools for strengthening feet and ankles.  Once you can stay still for a period of time, try closing your eyes.  Eventually you can add ball tossing and other upper body exercises to the challenge.

Start practicing your proprioception today to feel stronger and safer on any running surface.

Coach Meredith