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Shin Work: Exercise 1: Pushing a point using a clock metaphor for a
c. 2001 Austin "Ozzie" Gontang, Ph.D. & Lorne Sundby
> Two weeks ago I started feeling a tightness in my left calf. The first
> run, it went away after warming up, second run it wouldn't go away, third
> run it hurt like hell. So I threw in multiple rest days, lowered the
> mileage, iced the calf, etc. Officially now, two weeks of marathon
> training are in the toilet. It still hurts when I run.
> I carefully researched the pain to find out what it was. I believe I know
> what caused it - I foolishly tried to stretch the mileage on shoes. I was
> up to 475 on one pair and 425 on the other and was just about to switch to
> new shoes. I think both pair were on their last legs and the highish
> mileage (40+) I did for 3 weeks prior to the injury combined to cause the
> I looked through dozens of web sites matching my symptoms to the
> descriptions and after thorough research and analysis I've concluded I have
> an owie on my left leg. Seriously, I think the symptoms it comes closest
> to are medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) more commonly known as shin
> splints. Peak Performance Online is a good web site, and based on its
> description I believe my problem is moderate at this point.
> Tomorrow was supposed to be a race - a 1/2 marathon, and the best 1/2 in
> the city, the race I enjoyed the most when I ran it last year. I went out
> for a trial run this morning to see what the leg would tell me and although
> it felt better today than in the last 2 weeks it still began hurting at 1
> mile (better than a week ago when it hurt after 10 yards). So, stupid
> common sense will prevail and I will forego the race tomorrow. (why do we
> always feel weak and inadequate when we do that?)
> Now the question is what to do next? Unless I get other inspiration, I
> plan to totally wipe out the next week of training. I'll cycle, do some
> circuit training focusing on upper body, and do some strengthening &
> stretching which targets MTSS. Then I'll try another short run and see how
> it goes. With luck I can start increasing my miles again, but then I have
> another problem which is how to organize the last nine (or less) weeks of
> training to the marathon, given the three weeks which have been toasted.
> Lorne Sundby
> Edmonton, Canada
I'd first look at the left peroneus. If the left peroneus is tight due
to residual fascial tightness due to a sprain a month, a year or 10
years ago and not ever released, the posterior tibialis may have to
work again your semi-contracted (when it should be relaxed) peroneus
in addition to possible tightness in the gastroc/soleus area.
If you're not bringing your right knee up and through fast enough,
because of the tightness in the right quad or ham, it may be less of a
counterbalance to the planting of the left foot, causing an
overpronation which in my mind means your inside arch drops (see Note
to myself below) and that pulls on the posterior tibialis, which is
already tight and not letting go because of the strain it is protecting
you from and which you unknowingly created.
For working on my posterior tibialis, this is the folklore I use:
Oz's do-it-yourself exercise for a tight posterior tibialis (shin):
Exercise 1: Pushing a point using a clock metaphor for a time
1. I sit in a chair, erect.
2.I place left outside ankle above right knee. Figure 4 with left leg
crossed on right knee.
3. My posterior left shin is in front of me like a key board on my lap.
4. I place my hands on shin bone keyboard so my fingers are resting on
5. I place my thumbs on posterior tibialis so tips of my thumbs are
6. I point my left foot down and sweep it down and make a slight arc
upward going from 6 o'clock (left foot point down) to 3 o'clock
7. I push in with my thumbs on the posterior tibialis.
8. As I sweep from 6 to 3 o'clock, I can feel the posterior tibialis
activate under my thumbs.
9. At 3 o'clock I push in harder and keep pushing as I go clockwise
back to 6 o'clock with my foot. I do that repeatedly, slowly and with
enough intensity until I feel the muscle fibers start to let go and I
can push my thumbs in a litle further. (Again, I am not pushing to
cause pain, but to use my thumbs as the most sensitive feedback
mechanism attached to my brain.)
9.a As I do the pushing in from 3 back to 6 o'clock, I slowly move my
thumbs from the lower part of the posterior tibialis up to the upper
part of the posterior tibialis.
10. Once I can feel the posterior tibialis let go after numerous small
sweeps from 3 to 6, I then go from 6 to 8 o'clock. I now use the
peroneus on the outside and the antagonist of the posterior tibialis to
stretch it. I continue to press into the posterior tibialis to
gradually get the muscle fibers to stretch in the knotted area.
A mindful thought to myself: This is all done with extreme love and
care because it is the only left posterior tibialis I have, and it is
hurting from whatever misuse I've created for it. It is hurting and I
feel its pain, because I have probably misused it over tens to hundreds
of thousands of steps and the pain now is the accumulation of that
knotted muscle afraid of letting go because I've hurt it so badly, it
doesn't trust me.
A Note to myself. When my feet splay out from the ankles, that splay
causes the posterior tibialis to stretch. And since this muscle is
involved in creating the medial longitudinal arch, when it is
stretched, the arch drops.)
11. After several minutes of the above, I walk a little to see if I
can feel the difference, which means the posterior tibialis is letting
go and I don't feel the immediate pain I normally experience when it
is tight and not letting go and transmitting the tension from the
semi-contracted muscle to the musculo-tendon junction. Often I
remember the miracles I have created in people that the pain is gone
after a few minutes of the above laying on of their own hands. Thank
12. All the above takes place after the initial inflammation, swelling
and injury/bruising is gone. The above is used by me during my initial
walk/runs of a few miles. At Mission Bay, I'll stop as soon as I start
to feel the posterior tibialis and find a bench or picnic table and
work it out immediately. Gradually, as I can go further, I need less
and less stopping to work out the shin. During all of my other
training stops, I'm working on the muscles: quads, hams, calves, gluts,
adductors, IT track and lower back. For those who have run with me, the
hangouts are well known: bars, gutters, park benches, picnic tables,
low walls, steps and banked surfaces.
13. Once I know I need to get in deeper to knead the posterior tibialis
I simply place one thumb over the other thumb and can increase the
pressure on the smaller area two fold. Marvelous feedback mechanisms
14. When the fish is caught, the fowl is shared, the animal is trapped,
the net or snare or trap is forgotten.
15. People say about a good teacher: He/she has taught us well. When
talking about a great teacher people say: We did it ourselves.
Next article will look at:
Oz's do-it-yourself exercise for a tight posterior tibialis (shin):
Exercise 2: Using a thumb plane or a plain thumb on knots in the shin
(Since July, 2001 when this article was written, life got in the way
of the 2nd exercise. Also several hundred other replies to other
running injuries and running related issues. It will appear at the
right time when the time is right. Oz