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Prevent tibial stress fractures with strong calves

Running causes repetitive force and stress on our bodies. Sometimes this continuous stress can cause tiny cracks in our bones, known as stress fractures or hairline fractures. Stress fractures account for more than 20 per cent of running injuries. Of those, more than half are tibial stress fractures. The tibia (shinbone) is one of two bones in the lower leg and is responsible for bearing most of the weight while running. Tibial stress fractures are commonly felt as pain on the inside of the shin. They can force a six to eight week break from training.

To help prevent stress fractures include strengthening and stretching exercises of the surrounding muscles, specifically the calves. The calves are comprised of two muscles: the gastrocnemius, a bulbus muscle, and the soleus, a flat muscle that lies beneath the gastrocnemius. Strong and flexible calf muscles help absorb shock, reduce strain on the tibia and also help prevent improper running gait that can lead to more stress on the tibia. Incorporate these two poses into your weekly stretching routine.

chair-poseChair Pose on your toes

Start in standing position with your feet hip width apart. Inhale sweep your arms up towards the sky, and on your exhale bend your knees and sit back as if you were seated in a chair. Your knees should be inline with your toes. On you next inhale lift your heels off the ground balancing on your toes. Try and hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Once you are able to maintain balance on your toes, try lowering and lifting your heels with each breath for 10 reps. Ensure your heels are hovering off the ground each time your lower.

IMG_7629Eagle pose

Start in a standing position with your feet hip width apart. Bend both knees, lift your right leg and cross it over your left leg. Try and hook your right foot around your left calf. Inhale and stretch your arms out to the side at shoulder height. Cross your arms in front of your body with your left elbow stacked on top of your right. Bend at the elbows and reach your arms up to the ceiling. Try to press your right fingers into your left palm. Raise your elbows to shoulder height. Once you find your balance, bend your knees deeper into the pose. Try holding this pose for 30 seconds.