Archive for November, 2008

What Are Shin Splints? The Basics

The term “shin splints” is usually heard from the mouths of athletes. This is because athletes lead active lives and expose themselves to painful incidents when they play their respective games, causing them to complain of different kinds of pain. Of course, everyone, not only athletes, are at risk for shin splints If you’re wondering, “What are shin splints?”, this is the article that will answer your question, and then some. Shin splints are the slow-healing pain felt around the shins when a person engages in too much running, jumping, or moving around. In the medical world, the formal term used for this medical condition is “medical tibial syndrome.”

Sometimes, persons who experience pain in their shins immediately think they have shin splints However, this may not be the case. Shin splints are rather common, but they are not the only reason why you feel pain in your shins. It is better to ask for expert advice before jumping to conclusions, lest you fall into wrong belief and resort to wrong treatment. Another medical condition, chronic compartment syndrome (CCS), mimics the symptoms of anterior shin splints CCS is considered more serious by many health professionals because it can lead to great loss of function in the affected area, which is the lower leg. Before CCS sets in, swelling occurs within the non-distensible anterior compartment of the leg and causes the blood flow to reduce. When ischemia, the relative lack of blood, develops, more swelling and even generate a positive feedback loop can result. In even more serious cases, acute compartment syndrome (ACS) can occur, and in order to prevent muscle death from the lack of blood, also referred to as chemic muscle necrosis, surgery will be required. This is why it’s important to ask “What are shin splints?” and to consult your doctor right away if you feel pain in your shins.

There are different causes for experiencing shin splints the most common of which is a stress fracture found in the shins and an overused muscle. The muscle pain that erupts can be caused by any basic physical activity that puts force and pressure on the shins, such as walking, running, swimming, jumping, skipping, biking, roller skating, and others. A person who is not used to doing any of the activities mentioned above but engages in an intensive session, even just a short bout, can suffer from shin splints the next day. One of the commonly believed contributing causes of muscle discomfort and pain in the shins is the forced extension of the anterior lower leg muscles done by the opposing calf muscles, which overpowers the shins and causes pain. Thankfully, shin splints can be prevented and cured. What are shin splints treatments? Exercise is the most recommended treatment, together with a more relaxed lifestyle. Exercise also helps determine if the condition is really shin splints or something else; if the pain worsens during the course of the exercise regimen, the condition is most probably CSS, not shin splints.

Find out more answers about Orthotics and other foot related topics at Ireland’s leading orthotics, foot orthotics and biomechanics clinic dealing with foot injuries, walking injuries and running injuries.

Leinster Clinic Biomechanics Lab is run by Senior Orthotist David Kingston B.Sc.(Hons) Orth.

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Posted by The Running Guy - November 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

Categories: Injuries   Tags:

9 Tips to Help You Make it Through Your Marathon

Before you step to the starting line for your next marathon, do a little prior planning to help you make it on race day. I’ve run and finished 16 marathons and each one was different. After running my first 3-4 marathons I started doing a few things prior to stepping to the line on race day. Follow these 9 tips and your marathon experience will be celebrated.

Wear a Pace Chart – Nothing works better than the old phrase “prior planning prevents poor performance”. There are moisture resistant wristbands with pacing charts per mile to keep you on your game.

Wear Proper Sized Shoes – Your running shoes should run ½ to 1 size larger than your regular street shoes. The larger size allows your toes ample room to spread out and breathe. Your feet will definitely swell after many miles, so the more room you have the better.

Body Glide Your Feet – You don’t want to quit the race because of painful blisters. Body Glide is a thinly applied lubricant. Lube your feet up before you put your socks on. You can even carry the small size of Body Glide with you on your run. Put it on top and bottom of your toes as well as the ball of your foot and the arch, finishing with your heel. You never know.

Put Medical Tape on any Hotspots on your Feet – If you’ve experienced any slight blistering in the week or two before your race, put medical tape on them the morning of the race.

Advil or Ibuprofen – I carry some form of anti-inflammatory with me on all my runs. I may not always need it, mostly I don’t at all but… If you feel some pain, take 2-4 caplets with fluid and finish with a flair.

Electrolyte Tablets – Sometimes if I feel a little dehydrated I will take electrolyte tablets, usually 2 per hour. Wash these down with fluid and you will give yourself a chance to avoid cramps in muscles. I usually take ELoad Caps, but there are several good brands. Practice using these tablets before your race so you have no race day surprises.

Heart Rate Monitor – If you feel you cannot pace yourself properly, try using a heart rate monitor with heart rate zones. You can set your monitor to send a sound if you fall under your heart rate or go over your heart rate. You will have to do the work beforehand to set your heart rate zones.

Fueled Up – Most running nutritionists and coaches will tell you that you must intake about 100 calories per hour to keep your energy level up. Gels are the most common and often are handed out at marathons. Other methods of fuel include energy jelly beans and gel blocks. I’ve even seen snack crackers and fruit consumed. You will have to experiment with these for sure. NEVER go to the starting line without having used something successfully from your long runs.

Signage – If your race number doesn’t have your name on it, make a sign that does. Find a moisture proof paper such as Fedex or UPS letter envelops, cut out one side of it and with a permanent magic marker put your name or nickname on it and then pin it to your chest or back or both. As you pass spectators by they will call out your name and it will give you a nice little energy boost. Make it fun.

Well there you go. A lot of training with a little planning will go a long way to helping you be your best on race day.

Matt Ney is married to a beautiful wife and has 3 teenage girls. He has started home-based businesses to provided himself as well as his girls with their own opportunity to generate monthly cash flow. Taking advantage of US tax laws, he has also reduced his income taxes allowing his family to save more for the future. More info;

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Posted by The Running Guy - November 17, 2008 at 10:09 am

Categories: My Marathon Training, Training   Tags:

High Altitude Training For Runners

Many people say that by training in high altitudes you will dramatically increase running times upon a return to low altitudes. In fact, many of the world’s best runners live and train in high altitudes, such as recent Boston Marathon champion Robert K. Cheruiyot from Kenya. A majority of the rationale is based upon the obvious lack of Oxygen at higher altitudes and the assumption that your body would learn to permanently adapt to this problem while maintaining the benefits achieved from low altitude training. The problem with these assumptions is that they just might be wrong.

After reading several fitness journals and physiological studies, I have found that high altitude training may not be all that it is cut out to be.


The first thing that happens is your respiratory rate and heart rates speed up. This occurs both at rest and during sub-max. exercise. This helps offset the lower partial pressure of oxygen. You will not be able to reach your max VO2 so don’t get frustrated. The faster breathing rate changes your acid-base balance and this takes a little longer to correct. The longer term changes are:

1. a decrease in maximum cardiac output
2. a decreased maximum heart rate
3. an increased number of red blood cells
4. excretion of base via the kidneys to restore acid-base balance. (Unfortunately, the net result is that you have less tolerance for lactic acid.)
5. a chemical change within red blood cells that makes them more efficient at unloading oxygen to the tissues
6. an increase in the number of mitochondria and oxidative enzymes

Although there is the benefit of an increase in your body’s red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body, resulting in an increase in your blood’s oxygen carrying capabilities, two of the physiological changes are negative and could be very disruptive to long term training goals. Take for instance the lowered tolerance for lactic acid. Lactic Acid is what causes your muscles to feel worn out or sore during effort and usually the goal is to try and increase your body’s tolerance rather than lowering it. Lowering it will cause you to tire quicker during training and/or races, which is a definite problem. A decrease in maximum cardiac output also poses another problem, as it reduces the maximum capacity at which your body can operate under stress.

Studies suggest that the optimal high altitude training would be training high and sleeping low. What this means is that if you have the option to train in high altitudes and sleep in low altitudes, then your body will most likely adopt the positive benefits without adopting the negative benefits. However, this theory is still just that and although the science is sound, it is more complicated than that. In many cases, some people may not have the option to sleep low, in which case your best bet is to try and find higher ground to train in than you sleep in or follow the strategy outlined below.

A Good Strategy

Although there are a few negatives to high altitude training, I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives. Studies suggest an extra amount of carbohydrates to give your body more fuel, while also supplementing your diet with additional iron to support the growing red blood cells.

By planning your training properly, you can offset the decrease in lactic acid threshold with a routine designed to increase it, thereby balancing out the effect. My theory is that by focusing on endurance and stamina, you will be able to return to low altitudes with physiological changes that will benefit you in the short term for sure and possibly in the long term. I am currently training with this method and will be recording my results in order to find the real answer to whether or not high altitude training works (I am currently training in Afghanistan).

Already I can feel the effect of the altitude just by climbing stairs. Where before I could run a 30 minute 4 mile at a moderate pace, I am now running 16:30 2 mile times and sucking wind badly. As I begin to acclimate to the altitude and my times resume some sort of normalcy, I look forward to completing this experiment. I look forward to hearing about your experience with high altitude training as well.

USATF / USAT Competitor and host of http://RunnersTrainingGuide.Com | http://TriathlonTrainingGuide.Com

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Posted by The Running Guy - November 2, 2008 at 7:51 am

Categories: Fitness, Training   Tags: