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For the next couple of weeks I am going to do a series on running. This series will focus on some of the ways we can improve running for exercise and it will also focus on some ways to treat as well as prevent certain injuries.

I used to hate running. Honestly! As much as I always wanted to be “cool” because I was a runner, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because, well because it just hurt to run. It made my legs sore and my lungs burn. But one summer I decided I needed to get in shape and lose some weight. So on the days in between working out with a personal trainer, I started to run. Now, let’s be clear here, it really was more of a jog but I would do it. I committed to it and after a few weeks I started to notice some changes. My lungs did not burn as much and I could actually increase my speed at certain intervals during my jog.

My body dropped the weight a lot quicker with running than with any other cardio method I had done before. Once I started to see results and feel normal while I ran, I became totally hooked on running.

Enter the shin splints…..

“The shin bone helps absorb and dissipate the impact generated with each foot fall during running.

Much like a beam on a bridge or in a skyscraper bows slightly when it’s supporting a lot of weight, your tibia bends backwards slightly on impact with the ground, putting compressive forces on the medial side of the bone.

In healthy runners, the stress a bone experiences after a long, hard run is not a problem. The body responds to the stress on the bone by remodeling the tibia to become stronger and thicker. This is why shin problems are more common in less experienced runners: their bone has not yet adapted to the stresses of a high-impact activity like running.”

Have you ever experienced shin splints? Evidently shin splints make up about 35% of running injuries and while they do heal, with the proper treatment, prevention is a bit more controversial. Some experts believe that making the muscles stronger on the front part of the shin will help prevent shin splints. But in reality, improving calf strength, abductor strength and pelvic stability are a better approach to preventing shin splints…….

“The calves are the largest muscle group in the lower leg and strengthening them will help you stabilize the tibia with each impact. Moreover, the size of your calves is directly related to the size and strength of your tibia since the tibia “grows” in response to the muscles around it.”

Several studies have showed a connection between hip strength and shin splints. Evidently if you have weak hip abduction strength and more motion in your torso and hips when you land and push off when running, then you are more likely to get shin splints.

Here are several exercises to help improve hip abductor strength:

  1. Clams – Keep the pelvis perpendicular to the floor rather than rolling backwards, which is a way to cheat during this exercise. Keeping your feet stacked one on top of the other and together, lift your knee up, then bring it back down. Work up to 20 repetitions on each leg.

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2. Donkey Kicks – Keep your abs tight and your back flat. Lift your left leg off the ground with the knee bent. Keep the movement controlled and arch your back. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions per leg.

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3. Hip Thrusts – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Extend the right leg straight out, and raise your pelvis off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and keep your core tight/stable as you lift your pelvis. At the top of the movement your body should be in a straight line from your knee to your head.  Perform 15 to 25 repetitions on each leg.

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4. Calf Raises – Stand on a ledge, step, curb or other stable surface with your right foot; bend the left leg at the knee and keep it bent and raised throughout the movement. Slowly lift the right foot upward until you’re balancing on the ball of your right foot. Slowly lower down so that your heel hangs off the surface slightly. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions before switching legs.

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Good nutrition and proper supplementation can also help in the re-building of muscle mass after an intense workout. The Shaklee Physique® is a pure, natural, high-octane fuel for rapid muscle recovery, endurance, and strength. The intelligent-release protein blend and unique protein-to-carb ratio allows your body to absorb a full spectrum of amino acids over time to help build firm, lean muscles, help restore muscle energy, and support muscle repair.

There is plenty of research to back up the fact that poor nutrition and weak hips can lead to injuries so if you suffer from shin splints, strengthening your hips and muscle recovery are the best places to start taking care of those valuable shins of ours.