Saturday, February 26, 2005

Plaguing shinsplints

Back in 1983, my first serious bout of shinsplints sidelined me only weeks before my second Orange Bowl marathon with Roy. Talk about disappointing. I didn't know any better and tried to run through them, big mistake. Anyway, I may have had another bout or two since, but generally, shinsplints have not been a problem. Until the last year.

Now they've popped up twice for extended periods, in the December to February timeframe. I'm assuming my legs are just breaking down after fall marathons, continued hard running and some races. So my problem is probably lack of strength and flexibility, rather than shoes. However, switching to a new shoe is always easier than taking time to strengthen and flex.

Kurt suffered shinsplints last summer, in his first marathon campaign, which coaches say is not unusual for a new runner. It takes a gradual build for the tendons to strengthen along the shin, and that takes time for somebody new to the roads. Strength is probably the issue for Kurt too.

I've found two good exercises to strengthen the lower legs and prevent shinsplints. 1) Get one of those big rehab rubber bands, attach to your toes, and stretch against the resistance while watching late night reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. 2) Hang your legs over the bed, and raise your toes with a weight attached to your foot.

Other tips: Get a good orthotic. Warm 'em up and stretch 'em out a bit, especially before intervals and time trials. For my current nagging bout, I'm also going to go out and buy a new cushiony shoe....