Monday, August 15, 2011

Shin Splints & Shoes

When I decided to get fit again, one of the things I really wanted to do was become a runner. I ran track in high school and really enjoyed it. I guess I'd both like some of that feeling back as well as just getting in better shape and losing weight.

Like a lot of people, this is not my first attempt to get into shape or start running but this is my first truly serious one. I remembered that last time I tried, I had a lot of knee, hip and ankle pain before long and I wasn't as heavy then as I am now. This was in spite of my podiatrist-recommended motion-control running shoes.

I'd done a lot of reading about the barefoot running movement and wondered if this would be better for me. I know many people have many opinions of it but I'm a strong believer in personal choice and this is my choice to try. So telling me how wrong I am will not make a difference, trust me. :)

I didn't want to be completely barefoot, though, because the soles of my feet are quite soft and sensitive - not a lot of callouses - so I decided to give Vibram FiveFingers a try. A trip to REI and trying on the many styles led me to the ones pictured above - the Vibram Komodosport. They fit wonderfully right off, even if friends did refer to them as "Avatar Water Socks." I never thought they'd come in periwinkle myself!

I then started to walk on the treadmill at the gym until I worked myself up to running short intervals - like run 1 minute, walk 4 minutes. I noticed that the bottom of my feet ached a bit, most likely from the combination of being weak from wearing supportive shoes and from a lot of weight landing on them. Mind you this is not the screaming pain of plantar fasciitis (been there), it's a diffuse, generalized ache that lasts about 4-5 steps when I first get up in the morning. Then it's gone.

The VFF did force me to mid-foot strike and not heel strike, another reason I wanted to try barefoot running. It's hard to heel strike when it hurts a lot and I had been told I did so in my running past. I wanted to break that habit as I re-learned how to run.

I had a few twinges of pain along the front of my shin when running but nothing bad. Then I decided to try an experiment to see what happened if I wore my motion-control running shoes. This may be the cause of my current situation.

My form was basically the same but I had quite a bit more shin pain. This was this last Saturday. Since the bottoms of my feet still ached the next morning, I decided this was not the way to go and today I went back to the VFF.

Except today I had even MORE shin pain, to the point I knocked off my run intervals after 20 minutes and just walked the other 30 minutes. Now my shins are sore to the touch along the shin bone and I think I have a case of shin splints.

Needless to say, I am NOT pleased. But I know I have to deal with it now. So it's Aleve, BioFreeze and only walking for at least a week at which time I'll see if they are still tender.

Logic says that this may have happened anyway, even without the running shoe switch. It's a very common problem and may have been caused more by my lack of slow build up to the intervals but, either way, no running for a bit.

Ah well, the Couch to 5K can wait and I can walk the 5K I have planned with a friend for Nov/Dec if I need to. But I'll stick with the VFF for now.

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