Young Adam (age 21), a 4th year Accounting student and budding iM 140.6 age group star, was referred to me by a mutual friend who also is a former barefoot running client. The challenge with Adam was fixing the cause of severe shins. How severe? Well, severe enough that it took him over 6 hours to slog through the marathon segment of his one and only 140.6 about 1 year ago. This was after he cam out of the water in 5th place and then was in 6th after the bike. He was prescribed custom-made orthotics that did absolutely nothing to fix him. He had a running coach who made the shin splints worse. Thus, I knew fixing Adam would be a challenge but NOT insurmountable!
He presented in his ‘coffins’ and orthotics with severe tibial anterior rotation and excessive flexor mode posture (arms in front of hips and head lined up in front of the shoulders). These both contribute directly to imbalance and strain on the lower body when running.I proceeded to observe Adam running. He was a classic loper who hit the ground hard and too far forward. He also had severe upper body rotation that through off his hips and caused over supination of the feet. The result was immediate left shin pain.Even running barefoot before learning the squat-scoot technique, Adam had no idea how to brace himself versus the negative effect of gravity’s downward pull. This further highlighted the need to revamp his running style to keep him injury-free.I proceeded to test his body symmetry and, sure enough, his left leg presented much shorter than his right. Of course, the shin splints are on his left leg.This was causing Adam to hit off-centre every time he landed on the left foot. The constant pounding combined with the tibial anterior rotation and imbalance = severe shin splints. From there, I took him through a series of hip, low back and upper leg unlocking drills. These are designed to get Adam out of flexor mode and more into extensor mode. This improves his balance and creates body symmetry which in turn equates to safe, efficient running.
You can also see that he now was perfectly unlocked and symmetrical with both legs exactly the same length. This was a significant breakthrough for Adam.We followed this up with a few hip and abductor strengthening exercises along with 1-legged balancing drills on the Bosu Ball with eyes open and closed. These are designed to help Adam keep squared up when running and landing consistently level, light and quick.We then threw out his useless orthotics and replaced them with the foot strengthening barefoot science insert system. Adam immediately noticed his posture improve and less pain in his shins. I also taught him the squat-scoot running technique and, as you can see, he adapted well to it – especially barefoot.You will also notice, when I had Adam run barefoot outdoors on rough asphalt, he locked onto tight, light, compact, forward running with NO shin pain. His posture was perfect and his gait smooth.To finish the session, we tested his alignment with the barefoot science inserts in his ‘coffins’and found him in perfect extensor mode (head even over the shoulders, hips square and no sign of tibial anterior rotation). The best things of all were NO shin pain and slightly sore calves – exactly what to expect with the transition to safe, efficient running. The calf pain eased off within 2 days of our session and Adam is now ready to build the running distance up to the full marathon at his goal pace of 4:05 per kilometre.The exciting aspect of all of this is Adam running injury-free. He now has the opportunity to reach his goal of competing in the Kona, Hawaii 140.6 iM (October, 2017) as one of the top 3 finishers in his age group when he races next summer. Once again, I have transformed an injured, frustrated runner within 1 hour to a safe, efficient runner with the potential to push hard!