I suffer badly from posterior shin splints. A couple of reasons - being overweight probably doesn't help - that I can do little about, I just have to manage them. I have orthotics, stability shoes etc - try not to run downhill or on bad cambers. If they're particularly bad then I don't run at all. I also try to do at least two of my three weekly runs on a treadmill to reduce impact. Anyway, I've discovered something that actually helps and so wanted to share this. I have to stress this is NOT medical advice and although I work for the NHS, I'm not medically qualified! However, spinning classes have really helped reduce my shin splint discomfort. They don't just not cause the shin splints to get worse, they actually help. I have thought about this a lot and I think it's because I wear proper cycling shoes (so clip in) and a lot of the time I'm cycling with my heels down - a classic stretching out the calf position. When my calves get tight, my shin splints get worse - which is why I always harp on about stretching after a run. Of course, spinning is hardcore exercise and wearing cycling shoes helps keep your hips, legs and knees correctly aligned AND has really helped my running by strengthening my legs. For all those people who don't like to "rest" on a rest day, I would recommend a spinning class. Get ready to sweat, get ready to burn a HUGE amount of calories - but I really think it's helped my running too - and, of course, no impact. If you've never had shin splints before, do not carry on running and ignore them - they will get worse.
Shin splints - this really helps me! - Couch to 5K
You're certainly not the only one who values the time spent upon the spinning bike, as means of maintaining cardiovascular fitness and developing strength in the legs. Other than the StairMaster, the spinning bike is the only other piece of cardio equipment I use when performing HIIT workouts in the gym.
Furthermore, when out of the saddle, since the leg drives from the hip, greater tension can be placed upon the fly-wheel, allowing the soft tissue to absorb the increased force, resulting in a stronger and more aesthetically pleasing set of legs.
If spinning is something you've just embarked upon, pay attention to how your hamstrings may begin to taper towards the back of the knee, as definition of the 'teardrop' muscle in your quads improves.
Thanks MrNiceGuy! I love my spinning and started it just before I started C25K - the beginning of April. Sorry for being thick but what do you mean about the hamstrings tapering towards the back of the knee? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? My legs have the definition of a tree trunk!
There are three different spin classes, with different instructors, that I got to - never more than two a week but most weeks just one. All three are very different. One focuses a lot on hill climbs, mostly seated, one focuses a lot more on out of the saddle combined with high rpm. The other varies. The different instructors are all excellent at stretching out afterwards.
As for the StairMaster - heinous. Vile. I'm sure it works but I hate every second of it. I rarely use it. We have one girl at my gym who regularly uses it whilst maintaining an even toned conversation on her mobile for the duration of the workout.
Dismiss the StairMaster at your peril, since it's fantastic for developing strength in the legs, not least the calves. That said, most people view the StairMaster in the same manner, hence they're always largely vacant, much to my delight when visiting the gym during peak times.
With regard to tapering of the hamstrings, it's a good thing, as it means that excess fat covering the muscle is being burned as energy, eventually allowing improved tone and definition of exercised muscle to become more prominent. If, for example, clothing has begun to feel a little more comfortable and appear more flattering in recent months, then it's already working.
Since the instructors focus upon different elements, you're reaping the benefit of increasing strength and improving VO2 max, both of which I'm sure have helped running ability.
As much as you run to get fit, you also get fit to run, by conditioning the body so that muscles are better placed to handle and absorb the forces placed through them with each foot step, thus, reducing the risk of injury.
Thanks for the tip Rebecca! I had a couple of weeks off at the end of June with sore shins. I've changed running shoes, am doing specific stretches, running on softer surfaces & using ice but still getting some tingling on one side of a shin. I'm not a gym person but do go out on my bike so perhaps I need to make an effort to do longer, regular rides. I've just ordered some shin compression guards which are supposed to help so will let you know if they work!