A note from Coach Weiss on Shins

After Wednesday's meet and Friday's workout a number of the runners were frustrated with pain in the shins. First, this is not uncommon, especially in young runners and is usually a sign of running harder than the body was conditioned to running that day-( or training more than the body is ready to do). This will happen in meets where athletes push themselves. Our Middle Schoolers, for the most part, have not yet made the real connection of what conditioning themselves appropriately is, we are working on that understanding and it takes time- just like math and writing. So, even though shin pain is common, I do not want the kids to be hobbling around in pain. This weekend is a recovery weekend. Athletes were given an easy to remember homework fix, Ice for 10 minutes, heat for 10 minutes, stretch for 10 minutes. This will be great for this weekend and they should repeat this cycle each day and can do this 2-3 times in a day. Beyond recovery, however, we want to prevent pain. The biggest thing to pay attention to for shin splints is stretching that calf muscle very well and often. The second thing we do to prevent shin splints is toe raises and or toe walks in a neutral position, then pigeon toes and then duck toes. The kids know how to do these.The kids, also, each have a stretch band that was given to them at the beginning of the season. They were instructed how to use them, however I know they may not have retained those instructions. Basically they use the band to create resistance which they push against in different directions with their forefoot. The two most important resistance directions for shin splints are forward and back. It is hard to get that resistance where they are pulling their toes back, and they may need help. I will work on that in practice, but basically put the strap around a stationary object, perhaps a chair someone else is sitting in, loop the band over the toes (in shoes) and pull the toes toward the knee, repeat slowly 10-12 times x 3. You can use non-stretchy bands or straps for this, a towel, your hands etc. you just need to create resistance. Finally, a foam roller is often very helpful- to use this, have the athlete lie on their stomach, then push up to a plank (bent arms are fine) and gently roll the shin over a soft roller. This is a little awkward but they will get the hang of it. This will release some of the tension and pain. This should be light pressure and may be uncomfortable the first few rolls but the shin should relax. A couple of the kids have mentioned they use ice baths. I know this is a method of pain relief many higher level athletes use, I have fond memories of Tues & Thurs ice baths after workouts in college. But that was college. I am not a fan for this age to be using ice baths or needing them. Their body temperature regulation may not be sufficient to handle this, but I more strongly feel that if they are in that level of pain or that level of workout, then we are doing something very wrong. We have growing bodies here, that in a few years will be able to graduate to a very high level of competition if they want to, putting too much stress on the body now can diminish results later in life. So form, lightened conditioning and skill at various events will be stressed at Middle School Track and Field. And for those athletes we have that are not experiencing pain and feel ready for the more intense work, we will put them through more intense paces. It is not a matter of if your kid can do it, it is a matter of when. By the end of high school many of the kids we saw everyday on the track in Middle School will surprise us with their abilities because they will have grown into their bodies and mindsets for competition and conditioning. The best runners are not 14, 16, or even 18 they are in their 20s and 30s. And for those who will leave Middle School and High School without college athletic plans, the tool of "going for a run" will be theirs and I hope they will use it no matter what their pace. -

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