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     The Official eNewsletter of TODAY! Fitness

vol. 2010 issue 3



Shin Splints

When an athlete complains about shin splints (tibial stress syndrome) they're referring to a pain in the front of the lower leg between the knee and ankle, or shin. Athletes that over train without properly conditioning and warming up their muscles will often cause micro tears in the tendons and muscles, or bone fractures in the calf region.  These injuries result in painful inflammation.

Shin splints seem to occur mostly among inexperienced runners who fail to stretch and warm-up in the proper manner prior to activity.  However, anyone engaging in high-impact sports can experience the pain that comes with shin-splints.  

Shin splints aren't really a single medical condition. Instead, they're just a symptom of an underlying problem. They might be caused by:

  • Irritated and swollen muscles, often caused by overuse.

  • Stress fractures, which are tiny, hairline breaks in the lower leg bones.

  • Overpronation or ''flat feet" -- when the impact of a step causes the arch of your foot to collapse, stretching the muscles and tendons.

Shin splints are very common. They're the cause of 13% of all running injuries. Runners might get them after ramping up their workout intensity, or changing the surface they run on -- like shifting from a dirt path to asphalt. Shin splints are also common in dancers.


Whether you jog daily or just had to sprint to catch a bus one day, you may have shin splints when you feel throbbing and aching in your shins. While they often heal on their own, severe shin splints can ruin your game.  Shin splints cause dull, aching pain in the front of the lower leg. Some people feel it only during exercise; others, when they've stopped exercising. Sometimes, the pain is constant.

Depending on the exact cause, the pain may be located along either side of the shinbone or in the muscles. The area may be painful to the touch. Swollen muscles can sometimes irritate the nerves in the feet, causing them to feel weak or numb.

To diagnose shin splints, your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. He or she may want to see you run to look for problems. You may also need X-rays or bone scans to look for fractures. Other tests are sometimes necessary.


Although shin splints may be caused by different problems, treatment is usually the same: Rest your body so the underlying issue heals. Here are some other things to try:

  • Icing the shin to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for two to three days, or until the pain is gone.

  • Anti-inflammatory painkillers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.

  • Arch supports for your shoes. These orthotics -- which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf -- may help with flat feet.

  • Range of motion exercises, if your doctor recommends them.

  • Neoprene sleeve to support and warm the leg.
    Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your shins.

In rare cases, surgery is needed for severe stress fractures and other problems that can cause shin splints.


  • Always wear shoes with good support and padding.

  • Warm up before working out, making sure to stretch the muscles in your legs... especially the calves.  Some slow ankle rotations will warm up the shins and help prevent shin splints.

  • Stop working out as soon as you feel pain in your shins.

  • Don't run or play on hard surfaces like concrete.

  • Avoid Overtraining

ref. WebMD, Shin Splints (Tibial Stress Syndrome)





Partner Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!

Fireman's Squat

Yup... the idea behind this exercise is simple enough, but the challenge comes depending on who you're carrying!  Once you can easily perform 25 or so bodyweight squats, it's time to add some weight (or just keep increasing repetitions).  The Partner Fireman's squat is a convenient way to do so... as long as you have a cooperative partner ; )  You can start out with one of your children and work your way up.  Although you can also perform this exercise with different carries such as the standard "piggy-back", I like the fireman's carry position since it is comfortable and provides good clearance for your legs.


Target:  legs and butt (quadriceps, gluteals)

Count:  2 count

DescriptionSetup: facing your partner, grabbing your partners wrist or arm with your same-side hand, then reaching your arm through the partner's legs (elbow deep) to grab their same-side leg (example: you're left hand on partners right arm, your right arm around partner's right knee).  The partner can assist by leaning over your shoulders behind your head.  Execution:  While keeping your head and chest up, squat down by pushing your butt backwards and focusing on keeping your knees in line and directly over your toes.  Drive back up to the standing position and repeat for reps.

Good Read:  Heart of a Champion

If you really want to be inspired for competition, or just to get your @$$ in gear to workout, then I HIGHLY recommend a book called "The Heart of a Champion" by Bob Richards. 

Bob Richards was an Olympian gold medal winner in the pole vault (1952 & 1956) and his book shares incredible stories of athletes, overcoming hardship and disabilities, hard work, human spirit, determination, and everything that athletics and competition is all about.

The original printing of this book was 1959 but the stories are inspirational and timeless.  I heard about it while watching a Dan Gable wrestling video where this legendary Olympic wrestler and Iowa coach spoke of the book with such enthusiasm that I had to check it out.  I picked it up recently off of Amazon for $7.91 in soft cover (142 pages) and it is one that I plan to keep permanently in my collection!

This book should be required preseason reading for any athlete or coach to get your head on straight and the proper mindset to have a productive season.  As stated in the book "life does not determine a champion; a champion determines life"... Enjoy!

Try This

Cut your lunch in half and wait 45 minutes to eat the other half.  Yeah, I know... if you're anything like me, this is easier said than done.  Plus it's not always easy to do with work and limited lunch times.  However, you will be less likely to overeat if you try this type of strategy.  It typically takes roughly 20 minutes for your body to feel full.  This means that when you gobble up your meal you are more likely to overeat since you are not giving your body time to recognize that you've had enough. 

If splitting the meal in half and waiting for round 2 doesn't work, then at least try to slow it down a bit.  As mentioned previously, a nice big glass of water before your meal can be a good appetite suppressant and slowing

Both of these tactics require some discipline.  Another good practice of discipline is to try to leave at least 1 bite of food on you plate of your regular meals.  I know I know, my mom always made me clear my plate too.  But, I think that we're past the need to put some meat on your bones now, don't you? 

It's Go Time!

March... it's more than just a month!  Try marching in place for a period of time and you'll see what I mean.  Seriously, get those knees up, exaggerate your arm motion, and keep a brisk pace.  You can even space it out with some other stuff... march for a minute... pushups... march... sit-ups... march...etc... Marching is a low impact exercise with less jarring to your joints since one foot remains in contact with the ground at all times.  It also has the added benefit of abdominal work based upon the effort of keeping those knees up!

Not a fan of that?  That's fine... then March your butt down to the gym and get in a good workout with sufficient intensity to make your body realize why you're there!  Showing up is a start, but once you've committed yourself by getting there, make sure that you get the best return on your (time) investment.  Focus on your goals and your workout and you'll be happy that you did!

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Exceed Your Potential!

Pete Mazzeo, CPT

"All things are possible to him who believes"
Mark 9:23 NKJV

youtube of the month --> Javorek Shoulder Complex
Istvan Javorek's Dumbell Complex for Shoulder Strength and Rehab | Personal Training | News | Tips & Tools | Fitness Stuff




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