Half Marathon Training, Calf/Shin Niggles, #ART & #IASTM


If you've been following me on social media for a while now, you'll know all about my Half Marathon training. You'll also know about me getting a running injury. If you didn't know, you do now!

A few weeks back, I pulled my Quad going into a sprint interval on a speed run. A few days of rest and the soreness was easing. Except, I started having a weird niggle in my left calf and shin. It almost felt like a muscle spasm. It happened even if I just walked.

For just under a week, I dealt with the issue. I was coming up to the peak in my training and didn't really think I could afford to skip any runs. Silly. I ended up over compensating from the niggles with my left leg that I ended up getting pain on the inside of my right calf/shin. SIGH.

With 2 weeks to Half Marathon and FREAKING out about not being able to run, I took to Facebook to search for a Sports Therapist in my local area.

That's where Rich comes in! Rich is a soft tissue therapist who specialists in SMT, ART and IASTM.

He came around to my house on Tuesday evening, I had some questions to answer, forms to fill in and a general check of body parts. I explained the issues that I was having with my calf/shins and was surprised to hear that the cause was Shin Splints(FS!). I thought that Shin Splints was a localised pain on the shin that was PREEETTYY painful. Technically it is, but it can start off as a dull ache and a throbbing sensation that I've been feeling and definitely the pain I've been feeling in my other leg.

The cause of my injury seems to be case of 'too much too soon'. Prior to HM training, I was only really doing between 1.5 and 3 miles a few times a week. Over the last few weeks especially, my training has RAMPED. I've been doing 5 or so miles at least 2 times a week and upwards of 9 miles at the weekend. THAT and I wasn't strict with my stretching and only started foam rolling after I got injured. Injury waiting to happen? Probably.

So.. The treatment.. What is SMTART and IASTM?

SMT is Sports Massage Therapy - Sports massage works deep in the muscles, realigning the muscle fibres and connective tissue, and flushing away the toxins. Regular sessions will increase joint mobility and flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.

ART is Active Release Technique - To treat a muscle with ART, the muscle is shortened, manual tension is applied to the muscle by the therapists fingers and then the muscle is actively lengthened by the person being treated whilst the tension on the muscle is held in place. When the muscle is tight, the technique works by increasing the nervous systems tolerance to stretch the muscle.

This was great! Obviously, you have to do some work here but it's NO inconvenience at all. It hurts slighty but it was a good hurt for sure.

IASTM is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation - the use of any instrument or tool to massage, mobilize or manipulate soft-tissue structures. The instruments/tools effectively break down fascial restrictions and scar tissue. The  design of these instruments provides the ability to locate restrictions and allows for treatment of the affected area with the appropriate amount of pressure.

I'm not gonna lie.This HURT but I have a pretty low pain threshold.. I'm pretty sure I was at about an 8 when Rich was going over my calf with the tool but this technique has its benefits.. so no pain, no gain and all that jazz!

My legs felt quite relaxed after having the treatment. The next day they were pretty tender and heavy, as I was told to expect. I had a couple of bruises too which can be expected, it just depends if you bruise easily!

I tried an easy 3 mile run this morning which wasn't too eventful.I managed the full 3 miles and managed to get around 10 min/miles.. but it wasn't easy and my calves were still pretty uncomfortable. The treatment wasn't going to get rid of this completely, only rest will do that, but it has eased the problem and I can't really rest right now! Reduced mileage it is.

I'll cross the finish line next Sunday, even if I have to crawl! but I'm sure that won't happen..*touch wood* I'm doing ALOT of foam rolling/stretching to try and help the issue!


For anyone in the London or Newmarket(Cambridge)Area, if you have an injury, running or sports related, and you're considering treatment and need a Sports Therapist, I HIGHLY recommend you check Rich out, he comes highly recommended by others too. He definitely knows his stuff and it's clear that he is very passionate about his job and wants to help treat people! 

He's kept in contact to find out how things are going and has given me lots of information, exercise and demonstrations for foam rolling which have come in handy!

I'll leave all his links below for those interested!

Question: Have you ever had a sports massage or had ART/IASTM treatment?

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  1. I hope it starts feeling better soon - good luck next Sunday!!

    Christy x
    Dinner Stories

  2. I hope you feel better soon so you can run again. I am also two weeks out from my first half marathon, so I can relate to FREAKING out about not being able to run. I'm glad you met with a therapist and I hope he can help.

  3. @Christy Bridge Thanks Honey, I hope so too! If not.. I'll just have to run through it :( x

  4. @Amy Barker Thanks Sweet, I'm able to run but it can just be quite uncomfortable. I was hoping for atleast a comfortable run.. but it seems that just wont be the case. Good Luck for your first Half, I'm sure you'll do great :)

  5. Great article, thank you.
    My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller for my shin splints, great tool for massaging, worked surprisingly very well helped and me recover faster than any other treatment!


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