21/09/2012

Book review – The Shin Split Bible by Chris Williams (http://www.explosivelegs.com/)

I suffer from shin splits and have terribly so in the past. Before I took up running the burning pain in the front of my lower legs was so bad I could not up my walking pace without having to stop and rest. My initial adventures on the running machine, before I worked out that the correct shoes and pace were the most important thing, were ended by shin splints, so when I was asked, along with all other running bloggers on Twitter to review The Shin Splint Bible, as a writer and a runner I was more than happy to.
Unfortunately from the off there were far too many disclaimers for my liking, to a point of literally saying, I kinda wrote down what I think and if you try anything in  The Shin Splint Bible then it’s all on you. No pictures, instead links to subject matter you could find on the internet anyway. Having been a sufferer of this condition for a very long time I had trolled the internet for as much information as possible. I was also shocked to find that the topic of Compartment Syndrome that is far worse than shin splints but can have similar symptoms was not mentioned. I just searched for the term and did not find it in the document.
After an initial section babbling on about shin splints stopping you from running and very brief history of the author’s experience of the condition the book details the symptoms and diagnosis that you would find on the web. I knew this already and, before the author’s love affair with Nike comes to the fore, I actually learned something about the whole heel, toe, and mid striking thing and that heel strikers are more likely to suffer from shin splints. I am flat footed, under pronate on the right because of breaks on my left side, and always found the jolting action caused by landing hard and flat footed caused my shin splints, even when walking. The book then rambles on about barefoot running and the whole idea of shin splints seems to have gone out of the author’s mind for a while. I have met many physiotherapists in my time and not a single one would recommend barefoot sneakers out of the box.
I agreed with the next part of  The Shin Splint Bible, mentioning stride patterns and how slowing down helps, just read my early blog posts about starting to run, as I slowed all the way down to 8.5kph to get my running style right – the kind where it looks like you are running, listening to the ‘a-wimba-way’ parts of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, but then the author starts on the R.I.C.E. method that even my cat knows, which is detailed for more pages than the initial description of the problem (remember? Shin splints) in the first place.
The exercise section is pretty good, and I agree with most of what listed, but it rapidly goes off topic and talks of strengthening exercise like dips and squats. It also doesn’t mention running on the toes, with the toes pointed straight, then inward, then outward that is widely recommended as part of the warm up routine for sufferers of shin splits.
The workout routine makes little sense and kayaking is mentioned along with running on a football field and grass. So any of us living in large metropolitan areas need not read this section. I would recommend instead swimming, and low or non-impact exercise rather than running on grass, or a football field. I mean, why not list running on sand? We all live by a beach, right? Or why not try zero gravity in space?
The end of  The Shin Splint Bible continues to talk about workouts and keeping track of them. We all do this anyway. The only difference listed here is to mention if your shins hurt. If you own the Runners World Running Diary there is a page per day for you to do this and most people probably would anyway.

In short The Shin Splint Bible is not really worth reading, just Google shin splints and read the first three hits. This method will also save you reading the last section, that I neglected to review here, talking about visualising running pain free. This in itself is terrible advice. If it hurts, do not ignore it, go to the fucking doctor.

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