Strong calves can help prevent injury

One of the most frustrating and painful things for a runner to go through is a case of “shin splints.”
The technical name for this is actually “medial tibial stress syndrome.”
If you are experiencing pain in the lower legs where the tibias are, the first thing you need to do is determine whether you have shin splints, or the more serious problem of a stress fracture.
With shin splints, the pain is generally felt throughout the tibia, while in a stress fracture it can be pinpointed to a specific area.
Additional differences between shin splints and stress fractures are the following: pain goes away when done running, pain continues even after some rest; and normal daily activities are pain free, it hurts to even walk around or go up and down stairs.
Shinsplints and stress fractures are scary injuries to runners as they often mean short to long interruptions in training. Rehabbing a stress fracture can take four to six weeks.
To prevent these injuries, recent medical reports suggest that if runners reduce their stride length by 10 percent it can take some of the stress off the tibia.
Many trainers, coaches and runners alike have long known that developing strong calf muscles can also take away from the risk of shin splints. Strong calves strengthen the bones around them and absorb more force of running.
Here are some good exercises to strengthen your calf muscles:
* Stair stretch – Stand on a stair or platform and raise up and down at a controlled pace, making sure to get the full range of motion. Start with two legs at a time, but you can also do one-leg raises as well. (do three sets of 12)
* Wall lean toe lift – Stand against a wall with your feet a foot away. Lift toes toward your shins. Lower down to touch the floor. (do three sets of 12)
* Calf raise machine – Use the calf raise machine at your gym and do three sets of 15. By adding weight this will really help strengthen the calves.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at