Progressive Running

Running Form Correction and High Intensity Training

Category: Technique (Page 1 of 6)

Shin Splints Explained

What is Shin Splints?

Almost every runner I have met knew or heard of Shin Splints, one of the common running injuries that inflicts pain at the front side of the shins. It comes and goes in some cases, and sticks for long in some unfortunate others.

Some people relate it to running shoes, because once they change shoes the problem goes away. Some believe it never happens in barefoot running. Their explanations are not very accurate although they might get these solutions to work for them. The basic issue with these solutions is they do not discover the cause of the problem first; they go straight to prescriptions. That is why they randomly work no matter how this randomness is close to perfection.

Types of Shin Splints

This is a good article explaining types of shin splints although I skip its explanation on why the issue happens: http://elitesportstherapy.com/shin-splints . Based on this, there are two types of Shin Splints each linked to a different muscle:

  1.  Type 1: linked to Soleus muscle with the function of plantar flexion
  2. Type 2: linked to Tibialis Anterior with the function of dorsi flexion

Functions of these muscles

One end of Soleus is on Tibia bone also known as shin bone, and the other end merges with Gastrocnemius, or the calf muscle, into Achilles tendon. Soleus plays a dominant role in moving toes away from the shins (plantar flexion) when the knee is bent. If the knee is not much bent, Gastrocnemius (calf) comes in more effectively at plantar flexion. This action is called push-off or pawback in Pose running lexicon.

Tibialis Anterior moves toes towards the shins, called dorsi flexion. One end is on Tibia bone (shin) and the other end goes to the foot.

Type 1 shin splints and Soleus Muscle

One scenario I suspect the soleus muscle would be used much is pushing off the ground right after landing deep on the knee. The knee is bent so that soleus is used more than calf muscle to move toes away from the shin.

I have had clients with cadence slower than 180 at their jogging pace.  I helped them manage removing toe push off but they still had a push somewhere. Further investigation with slow motion video analysis transpired that there was a knee push off in the running cycle and that starts with landing deep on the knees, to load the knee for a good push. That significantly slows the stride rate due to the range of motion of knee joint. Going back to when they still had the toe push off on top of the landing deep on the knees, they would have to push off the ground to compensate for the delay caused by landing deep on the knees to maintain the momentum/pace. The push of course starts from the lowest point during landing when Soleus is more dominant than Calf muscle.

Here is how pushing off the ground can result shin splints in my own understanding.

Type 2 shin splints and Tibialis Anterios

Over-striding and landing ahead of the body is ubiquitous these days. While the comfortable cushioning in popular running shoes mitigate the damage by protecting some parts of foot and leg locally, the magnitude of such landing impacts other parts anyway. Landing ahead of the body usually comes with landing on heel. Note that landing ahead of the body can also happen in fore-foot landing and I have seen runners doing that. If the runner allows the heel to gently land, then it should be shin-splints safe; otherwise if toes are actively lifted to expose the heel to the ground first then there would be a good chance for this type of shin splints. There are running shoes that hold your toes up so you would not have to drosi flex to expose your heels (Ok, no hard feeling, let say it is because shoe makers love you and want you to feel comfortable at running) … and I never recommend going down such track. It is like counting on fat-removal surgery to binge on food. Better stop the wrong doing in the first place, do not you agree?

Here is how active heel striking can cause such shin splints, and it is all my understanding shared in here.

Read this before buying running shoes

Thanks for stopping by to read this. Sometimes I feel like I am standing in the middle of a crazy highway yelling at fast passing cars: “stop using fossil fuel, switch to solar!”

What I am going to share with you here is exactly the story of sustainable energy versus unsustainable one resembled in the context of running.  We all know solar panels are expensive (it is quite an investment). We know hybrid cars like Toyota Prius or electric cars like Tesla’s are expensive, but they help building a better future. The benefits of using sustainable energy come in a long run, same as correct/efficient/sustainable running that I am discussing here.

There is a different way of running that can save you a lot of energy while being at the most optimum form to avoid injuries. It is like learning a new dance move but scientifically removes physical pressure from your body to some good extent.

It all starts with one simple fact: we do not have to generate energy for propulsion.  So how to move forward? Only fall like a timber tree and catch yourself at the end. Can you do it in form of a smooth and fast running? The answer is yes, and that is what I teach. If you want to know more, google “Pose Method of Running” or watch this:

 

I observe outdoor recreational runners and usually find one runner per week running correctly – or very close to Pose – out of hundreds iterating the same ubiquitous inefficient technique: pushing off the ground + landing ahead of the body (usually landing on heels first).

The shoe industry does something that looks divine in the first glance. They truly try to protect your feet. Putting aside the relatively small minimalist shoes production, the rest of the industry manufactures shoes that mainly:

  • Mitigate the harmful impact of landing ahead of the body
  • Help with effective push-off the ground

I do not blame the shoe industry for not telling you how to run correctly and instead monetising what people prefer to do (would not you do that too if you could?! or what is wrong with you?!) What I am to blame is runners for naive thinking that running is their second nature persuming there is not much to learn.

Our ancestor cavemen went through an experience since their childhood that we do not: they ran barefoot all the time, telling from the sensations (mostly pain) in the bottom of their feet how to tread to have the least impact to their body (lasting long chasing preys) while being able to run as fast as possible. 

At our age, the situation is terrible. We learn walking and running in shoes. There are even shoes for new borns! Parents out of pure honest love for their toddlers buy shoes with elevated heels and arch support too. All of these deter us from naturally learning how to run efficiently. Well, we no longer run for survival but if you pick running seriously you better spend time to learn its basics properly to make the right choices including what type of shoes suit you.

If you choose to learn Pose, prepare yourself to get humble, but trust me, your running will feel like flying once  you start running in Pose. Private Sessions for total amount of $150. 

Fill out this form to get in touch on this:

Does footstrike matter?

Watched a video in which a successful running coach answered questions by one of his clients and one question was on footstrike if it matters how to land, as in forefoot or mid-foot or rear-foot. He said it does not matter and he repeated that over and over moving his head implying if it is an overrated topic and he is simply washing away all the fuss to enlighten his dear clients. Once he was done with the phrase “it does not matter” he continued “as long as you land under you hips, it does not matter how you land”. That was true but the way he approached it initially reminded me of those tricky visually-concealed lines in terms and conditions of a contract, maybe even in small font, that would work against customers! If he clearly highlighted the importance of landing underneath hips first, then yes, I would totally agree with him that footstrike does not matter much thereafter.

Landing under hips is what all physios – those with medical degrees and those without any! – would have consensus over it that is the best way of landing at running. There would be less pressure on knees and it would not generate any force against the direction of running. The question is how to achieve it? Can it be enforced?

The answer by me, based on Pose method of running, is it is the outcome of other things that happen before landing and it should not be enforced. Landing under hips happen if:

  • There is no propulsion generated by muscular effort (no paw-back or push-off)
  • There is no reaching forward to elongate stride length (no over-striding)

In an ideal case when everything is done correctly prior to landing, mid to front foot strike is expected to happen. It is actually hard to land on heels when landing underneath the hips; it would take moving hips a little bit backward, bending over waist which causes its own problems.

Is forefoot strike better than the others? Not necessarily. I have seen runners enforcing it while landing ahead of their bodies. That is still bad and exerts extra pressure on some parts, like Achilles tendon.

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