Gaelforce West, which takes place on Saturday, August 21, is the largest one-day adventure race of its kind in the world. Designed for solo competitors it is a multi-sport adventure race involving cycling, running, hiking and kayaking. The course of approximately 65km stretches through bogs, country roads, Killary Harbour and Croagh Patrick.
As with any event, training for Gaelforce carries with it the risk of injury. One of the most common problems to expect when preparing for running/walking section (around 20k long) is shin splints.
Shin splints are an imbalance in the muscles that pull the foot up and point the toe down. Symptoms include aching, throbbing or tenderness along the inside of the shin, although it can radiate to the outside also. You can feel pain when you press on the inflamed area. The pain can be most severe at the start of each run, but tends to go away during a run once the muscles have loosened up.
Tired or inflexible calf muscles can put too much stress on the tendons, which can become strained and torn. Running on hard surfaces can aggravate this problem, as can using leg muscles that haven't been stressed in the same way before. Shin splints can also be caused by dehydration, a poor choice of running shoe or increasing your mileage too quickly.
One of the best ways to relieve the muscles in your legs is to literally ‘take a load off’ by doing a shoulder stand, also known as Sarvangasana pose in yoga. The Shoulder Stand also stimulates the thyroid gland and is good for blood circulation in the chest, shoulders, upper back and the neck.
- Lie on your yoga mat.
- Exhale and raise your your legs to a 90-degree angle, perpendicular to the floor, keeping them straight.
- Lift your buttocks and hold your back, around the shoulder blades, with your palms.
- Support the body, by placing your elbows on the floor, keeping elbows in align with shoulders.
- Aim for the body to be in a straight line.
- Hold for one or two minutes, then release with care to the floor.
- Rest and repeat for longer periods if comfortable.
This article is not a recommendation for your own practice but serves as interesting reading for anyone thinking of going to a yoga class. As with any form of physical exercise, please consult your family doctor beforehand.
Lee Kennedy qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit Yogadara.com or call 0863906343 for more information.