My nagging shin was giving me some deep concern for my ability to keep training, but then a tip from my running friend Gina to go for a sports massage got me thinking and led me to Sweat Shop on Trump st near Bank Station.
I found myself something called an Addaday roller- it is a stick with different nobly wheels on to help massage muscles.
Feeling cheeky I asked the guys behind the counter if they had any knowledge of injuries. It appears you need a medical degree to work in a sport shop as these guys really know their stuff…
I explained I had some occasional soreness on the front of my shin when running and I was worried about shin splints. They immediately knew I had tightness in my Gastrocnamius (muscle on the back of my lower leg). Apparently this muscle attaches to the shin and under the foot. This muscle tightness will almost certainly be a cause of the shin pain. The ice I had been applying to the shin would probably be making things worse as it would tighten the muscle further.
Here is what they advised:
- Use hot and cold directly on the muscle to release the knot. At the end of a shower put the shower head on the tight muscle and apply hot for 40 seconds and then cold for 40 seconds. Do this two or three times and it will help the muscle relax by flushing the area with fresh blood.
- Stretch- stand on the edge of a step and lower your heels so you can feel the pull up the back of your legs (don’t raise up on to your toes as this will tighten it again). Alternatively put your toe on a wall and heel on the floor and lean forwards to stretch the muscle. Do this several times a day and before and after runs.
- Massage the muscle- use the Addaday to go up and down with a sweeping movement to flush the area. When you find a knot you can work it in all directions with one of the cogs. My roller has a little red cog in the middle to really work tough areas and get under the shin bone.
I was yelping in pain at first, but slowly over two days the knot has subsided to my immense relief.
Saturday I went to a slow run around some local hills. I only had time for a short run, but as I got warmed up I felt strong and pain free. By the end of the 9k I had stepped up to my 5k pace and finished with my third fasted mile ever (according to Strava).
Sunday morning I was slightly hung over from a party the night before, but I was determined to top up my miles for the week. I was about to leave home at 7:15 am when the heavens opened. I stuck on my running cagoule and headed out in the storm. I put on my ASICS road shoes as I had planned to stick mostly to the roads, but once I got through Seal I found a bridleway taking me off in to woodland. I got totally lost and kept thinking surely I will find a road soon. I could have done with my trail shoes because the mud was deep and the hills were epic. After an hour or so of running in the mud and rain I had to get my phone out hoping it was still working and work out a route back home.
Arriving back home, soaked to the skin after a little under two hours I was somewhat disappointed to find I had only run 14 miles. A lot of the mud had slowed me to walking pace as I picked my way up and down the hills. Some great new routes for when the weather improves and even better- no shin pain. The rain did wash the chafe stick off my nips so next time I will have to use plasters if it is raining hard… (ouch!)
I am very grateful to Gina and the guys in the Sweat Shop for the great advice.
Tonight 10 miles easy on the treadmill then rest day on Tuesday.
Jake Fricker (Author of I am a Runner)
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