As of June 1, 2016 Playalinda CrossFit put in place a Membership Cancellation/Postponement Policy which states that members are required to provide Playalinda CrossFit with a formal 14 day notice of any membership cancellation or postponement. We will no longer accept emails, Facebook messages, verbal, late night messages on the answering machine, etc…. as sufficient notice. We have always asked for a courtesy of 2 weeks notice in the past, unfortunately everyone forgets. In an effort to make your Playalinda CrossFit experience more professional and structured we are requiring ALL membership cancellations or postponements be handled by filling out a membership cancellation form at least 14 days prior to the end of the month. The form states the following:
Membership cancellation/postponement policy:
We ask that you provide a 14 day notice of any membership cancellation or postponement. You must complete the “Membership Cancellation Form” in time to allow for the 14 day notice. No other form of cancellation will be accepted (email, phone call, text or Facebook messages, etc…) If the 14 day notice is not given in time, you will be charged for that month and the cancellation or postponement will be effective the following month. Please talk with Eric, Miranda, or Todd if you need to cancel or postpone your membership.
Medial tibial stress syndrome, more commonly known as shin splints, refers to lower leg pain below the knee on the front outside part of the shin (anterior shin splints), or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints). They’re common among runners, but as one of the most frequent injuries in sports they can afflict athletes of any discipline.
Symptoms of shin splints
Athletes will typically feel an aching pain on the inside of the shin when they finish running or exercising. If left untreated, the pain will develop to more of a burning sensation, and can provide discomfort in the middle of a workout. It’s important to distinguish shin splints from other conditions, such as compartment syndrome—a swelling of muscles within a closed compartment. This condition creates pain on the outside of the lower leg, and typically requires special techniques such as surgical “decompression” to diagnose. Lower leg pain may also be a sign of a stress fracture (an incomplete crack in the bone), which may require an MRI to diagnose—especially in cases of severe shin splints in small areas. Pain from shin splints is usually more generalized than that of a stress fracture, and they also feel worse when you wake up in the morning because the soft tissue has tightened during sleep. Bone, on the other hand, has had the opportunity to rest, so stress fractures won’t feel so bad in the a.m.
That’s great—but what the heck is a shin splint?
For a long time sports scientists have disagreed as to what exactly a spin splint is, with theories ranging from muscle inflammation to small muscle tears in muscles that have pulled away from the bone. Yet an article in Runners Connect relays information from anatomic studies that point towards overuse injuries to the tibia (the larger bone in your shin) as a more likely definition.
“The most telling fact is localized bone density: in CT scans of the tibias of runners with shin pain, pockets of low bone density appear at the location of pain. After these runners have recovered, these pockets of low density have disappeared. Additionally, runners with tibial stress fractures often have larger areas of lowered bone density around the fracture. With this new information, scientists now hypothesize that the root cause of shin splints is repeated stress to the bone during running, caused not by straight-on impact, but a slight bending of the bone when it is loaded.”
The tibia bears a lot of your bodyweight, so when you run (particularly on hard surfaces) the bone bends slightly backwards as your foot strikes the ground. This puts a lot of shear force on the medial side of the shin.
Other causes of shin splints include: Flat feet, rigid arches, over-pronation (ankles roll inward on impact)
Your foot and ankle should move slightly inwards when you walk or run, but excessive inwards movement is deemed as over-pronation. This, along with flat feet and rigid arches, are mechanical faults that can cause uneven pressure distribution on the lower legs.
Poor rehab from prior shin splints
Coming back to intense workouts without fully recovering from a previous bout of shin splints raises the risk of having recurring issues with them.
Sharp increases in training intensity, duration and volume
The bodies of more seasoned athletes and runners have adapted to the demands of intense training and long runs, so much so that their bodies know how to rebuild the tibia following the stress that’s placed on it. Newer athletes are more susceptible to developing shin splints since their bone tissue isn’t as adapted to the stressors from running and other high-impact activities.
Downhill running places your foot in a plantar-flexed position (toes pointed down), so there’s additional stress placed on the front of your shin when your foot hits the ground, rather than being distributed evenly across the foot.
Treatment options for shin splints Rest/Ice
The first action you take if you’re suffering from shin splints is to rest, and apply ice to decrease local inflammation (though ice should never be directly applied to the skin—wrap it in a thin towel instead).
You should also look to increase your stride frequency when running by about 10%. Your stride frequency is the rate at which you can move your legs when running. It can be measured as strides per minute, per hour, or per distance (100m, 400m, etc.). Increasing stride frequency reduces the impact the tibia has to absorb upon each foot strike with the ground (since you’re increasing your stride frequency, you’re spending more time in the air as you’re looking to run faster, since time on the ground is wasted).
Many experts also advocate the use of proper/new footwear. New shoes can also help treat shin splints as old shoes may not properly absorb shock and have arch supports that have been flattened out.
Strengthening the muscles in your lower legs and reducing tightness is also important. Boosting the strength of the calves and making sure your Achilles’ tendon is supple helps to support a stronger tibia, which makes it better equipped to handle the shock from repeated foot strikes. Low calf strength is linked to high rates of shin splints in runners, so make sure that you don’t skip leg day—and strengthen the leg in its entirety. Some calf-strengthening exercises include:
This is a simple and quick drill that is easy to perform. Simply place your toes on a slight incline (like two 5lb plates) and move into dorsiflexion by bending your knees. Increase the incline as you progress.
-Self myofascial release on the foam roller.
Grab a foam roller (the harder the better) and sit on the ground. Place one leg on the roller, just above the ankle, and rest the base of the heel of your free leg on your toes. Roll up and down the entire length of your calf for 1 minute. If you hit a tender spot, pause and focus on this area for 10-20 seconds.
Stand on the balls of your feet on some stairs or a block. Use the railing or the wall for support. Keep your legs straight and allow your heels to drop down towards the ground. Slowly raise the heels up by pressing into the block with your toes. Repeat for 10-20 reps.
This is a drill I picked up from my days playing basketball to improve my vertical jump. Stand on your tiptoes, legs straight, and hop 2-3 inches off the ground. Land on your tiptoes, and hop again. This is a low impact drill that builds strength in the calves, and incidentally helps with your double-under technique by forcing you to stay on your toes. Repeat for sets of 50-100 (you’ll get through them quickly).
The overhead squat (OH squat) is, for many CrossFitters—one of the most vexing movements in the CrossFit repertoire. It exposes weaknesses in flexibility, balance, strength and coordination. For these reasons (and many more) athletes will avoid putting in the countless hours needed to develop the tools required for a strong OH squat. Many an athlete will be content to have a mediocre (or poor) overhead squat, as their back squat, deadlift etc. is strong—and that’s fine, it’s a personal choice. BUT, before you head down that road, or if you’re getting frustrated with how your OH squat is progressing, have a read of what Coach Glassman (Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit) has to say on the movement:
“The overhead squat is the ultimate core exercise, the heart of the snatch, and peerless in developing effective athletic movement. This functional gem trains for efficient transfer of energy from large to small body parts – the essence of sport movement. For this reason it is an indispensable tool for developing speed and power. The overhead squat also demands and develops functional flexibility, and similarly develops the squat by amplifying and cruelly punishing faults in squat posture, movement, and stability.” -Greg Glassman, CrossFit Journal
As Glassman says, the OH squat will expose the deficiencies you have—this is why it is such a valuable tool to work on. Getting better at the OH squat will develop skills that transfer over to several other major movements and lifts (like the snatch) in CrossFit—not to mention being an excellent way to develop effective (athletic) movement in and out of the gym. So, stop neglecting your OH squat training! While your coach will likely show you the fundamentals of the movement, we wanted to give you some extra tips that you may not know about (and if you already do, it’s always good to be reminded!). Read on for 6 tips for developing the OH squat.
1-Identify mobility issues—then work on them
You will have likely heard this countless times before, but if you can’t execute a solid air squat, then there’s no point in trying to progress to an overhead squat. Make sure you have a solid squat foundation first, then try a couple of OH squats with a training bar (not a pvc pipe—I explain why below) as you will likely discover additional mobility issues, namely in your shoulders. The OH squat requires excellent flexibility in the shoulders, hips, hamstrings, glutes and adductors (groin muscle). It’s unlikely that you are highly mobile in all of these areas—which is why the OH squat is avoided by so many. It may be frustrating, but you MUST invest the time into sufficiently mobilizing the afore-mentioned muscle groups in order to externally rotate your hips and become comfortable squatting with a bar overhead.
2-Develop midline stability
The overhead squat demands a high amount of midline stability, and therefore a high amount of core stability. Given that this movement requires you to hold a weighted bar overhead, much of the stability work will go to the core—most predominately the lower back. If you do not have an active midline when performing the OH squat (or any lift where the weight is overhead), you are susceptible to hyper-extending the lower back, resulting in an unfavorable overhead position—not to mention putting yourself at risk of injury. It is therefore imperative that you strengthen your core muscles and mobilize your lower back as often as possible. Every time you do a movement in class, think tight butt, ribcage down—this will help develop a neutral pelvic position instead of an anterior pelvic tilt (i.e. hyper-extension of the lower back).
Midline Stability Drills:
Hip Mobility then
50 Hollow Rocks
50 Single Leg Bridges
25 Strict toes to bar/Knees to elbows
3-Start with the right weight-but NOT a pvc pipe
Wait a second—don’t start training with the trusty pvc pipe? Why not? Well, Tamara Reynolds, a competitive weightlifter, coach and co-founder of Weightlifting Academy, explains why you should learn with a barbell (or training bar) instead:
“Part of the difficulty of an overhead squat is keeping the bar over your base. It’s possible to lock out a PVC pipe in all sorts of places that aren’t correct without even realizing it. You need to be able to feel where the bar should be so that you can ingrain the correct positioning, and using a barbell instead of PVC helps make this possible.”
A lot of CrossFit coaches may disagree with Reynolds, but I must say, what she says make sense. A PVC pipe is so light that you could be developing bad habits and positioning without realizing it. Using a bar that is weighted yet light enough to hold overhead will force you to engage your core (midline stability) and reveal any areas of your body that still require mobility work in order to perform the squat with correct positioning.
4-Press into the bar
When performing the OH squat, you should be thinking about constantly lifting/pushing the weight, and never just ‘holding it’. USA Weightlifting sports performance coach and competitive weightlifter Kat Ricker explains why you want to avoid simply holding the bar:
“One reason the OHS can be so counter intuitive is that the body wants to move as a unit through the dynamics of physics – in this case gravity – which means that as you descend, the muscle groups involved in keeping the bar raised tend to relax, hold, and depress. So the scapular group tries to switch from elevation to depression. The upper traps try to switch from concentric contraction to bigger balance with eccentric, to brace the body to catch the overhead falling weight.”
Needless to say, you do not want your muscles to be relaxed and depressed during the movement—they should be flexed to form a solid base of support for the weight overhead. Next time you are practicing your OH squat try pressing into the bar and see if you feel any improvements.
5-Stabilize in the hole
When you descend into the lowest part of the squat—the hole—it’s important not to rush out of it too soon as you risk losing your form. Instead take a moment to stabilize yourself and the bar. Make sure that you’re flatfooted, weight in your heels and your elbows and shoulders are turned out (armpits facing forwards). Doing this will reduce the risk of losing control of the bar path when you rise out of the squat and keep you moving efficiently—but don’t take to long to stabilize as your muscles may lose tension and you could get stuck down there, which will likely lead to you bailing on the lift. When everything is set and you feel comfortable, go ahead and drive out of the squat, with good form.
6-Train with pause squats
Getting comfortable at the bottom of the squat is probably the trickiest part of the entire movement. To work on this element of the exercise, it’s important to get used to having the bar (and weight) above your head when you’re at the bottom of the squat—the hole. One way to do is by training with pause squats (this exercise can be utilized to develop your front and back squats as well). Pause squats are great for developing power out of the hole, building torso rigidity, taking stress off of the knees and developing confidence and comfort in the lift—to name just a few benefits.
There are a number of variations that you can play around when pause squatting, but one that I have personally found effective utilizes a four-second hold. To do this, start with the bar racked and at a much lighter weight than you would normally use for 3-4 reps. Take the bar off the rack and get into your OH squat position and squat down into the lowest possible position you can achieve (while maintaining good form!). Hold this position for a count of four, then drive out of the hole. Repeat for a total of four reps, five sets, ascending in weight each set.