16 June 2011

Ask Paleohund: Beginner Paleo and Shin Splints

I recently received an email from an old friend asking for my advice:
My brother was telling me about this "diet" he uses and I heard you follow it. Is it beneficial, for lack of a better word, for you? Is it actually healthy/safe?
Is there a site I can look up for more info. As you probably know I'm running in the Marine Corp Marathon in Oct and wonder if it's safe to do this while training.
Also, have you experienced shin splints when you first started running and what else is there that I can do to prevent/relieve the pain.
My response:
Yeah, I've been eating this way for 3 years. For more information I would suggest:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/welcome-to-marks-daily-apple/ and http://www.archevore.com/get-started/ for a straight forward 12-step process.

The gist is that the standard foods most people are eating are grain-based and high in carbohydrates. I won't say carbs are bad... they are just not all created equal, and 'healthy whole grains' are not healthy.

In terms of if it is safe or not, I think what you will find is that it often contradicts the standard advice we are given by doctors or advertisements. So those doctors and those advertisements will say this is unsafe... however if you look at the people that do it they look healthy. I feel great and until I ran into that goal keeper I was running the fastest and furthest I had ever been. I get great sleep, never crave sugar, and right now I am able to not gain even the slightest weight and I've not been doing anything active since I hurt myself in October.

In regards to running, you may want to consume some sugar/gels/goo when going a distance like a marathon. I tend to adjust my carb level to my activity level, so if I had been running sprints earlier I don't mind eating that smith island cake later.

In terms of shin splints, running barefoot or with minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers avoids issues like that because you run differently in them. But given you have them now and probably won't change your shoes, I do know what works to fix that problem. Shin splints are caused by tiny muscles in the shins being pulled off your shin bone... so yes that is painful. The shin muscles are connected to your calf muscles. When you calf muscles are tight, they are pulling the shin muscles. So stretch and massage your calves to loosen them up. Don't do this before you run... never stretch before long runs... having stiff/rigid muscles is best for distance.