Before I enchant you with a quad-burning good time, a quick update on my shin splints.
Last September I wrote about some shin pain that put the kibosh on my 7km daily walks and eventually interfered with my swimming mojo. Seven months later, I still experience near constant pain localized in the area below my right kneecap.
The good news is, I did something about it and it’s getting better. I started seeing a physiotherapist and a podiatrist who’ve been able to isolate the problem to a few causes:
- My right leg is slightly shorter than my left leg. As a result, my muscles are imbalanced and one side of my body is constantly overcompensating for the other.
- My calves are extremely tight. This increases the strain on the muscle attachments in my lower leg.
- I have some inflammation in the bursa beneath my kneecap.
The one-sentence solution is to stretch and strengthen. That is, I need to stretch out my calf muscles and improve my balance through core strengthening exercises and orthopedic inserts. I’ve been wearing the inserts since December and they’ve helped considerably. Now I’m focused on the balancing bit. According to my physio, my quads, butt and abs need the most work, so I’m doing a series of daily exercises to rock my core and even things out.
The exercise he’s given me to target my quads are called “wall sits”. Wall sits are exactly what they sound like. I’ll let FitSugar do the talking:
- Stand with your back against a wall, placing your feet about two feet out in front of you. Feet should be hips distance apart.
- Bending your knees, slide your back down the wall until your knees are at 90 degree angles. Your knee joints should be over your ankle joints, so you may need to inch your feet further from the wall to create proper alignment. Don’t let your knees fall in on the midline of your body, or sway outwards.
- Hold for one minute, do three reps.
FitSugar also points out that wall sits are great for runners who are especially prone to similar knee pain called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PPFS). The causes are eerily familiar:
While there can be many reasons for this annoying and common problem that most often strikes newbies, it is most often caused by tight hamstrings and calves (the muscles in the back of the leg) coupled with weak quads (the muscle at the front of the thigh).
So I’ve been doing wall sits every day and they burn. But not in the it-burns-when-I-pee kinda scary way. I like this burn, and it reminds me how much I used to love strength training during my gym-going days. I’ve been meaning to develop an equipment-free training routine I can do at home, but the plain simple fact is: I’ve been lazy. Now I feel like I’m suffering the consequences and it’s time to step up and put on some damn muscle.
My goal for this week is to come up with a full-body strength training routine I can do at home. Anyone out there have any suggestions?