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Vasa Ergometer to the rescue

Sun, Nov  18, 2007 - By Mike Muha

I injured my right shin during a 3 hours rollerski a couple weeks ago. Within a few days, I was limping around. It hurt to walk and drive; running and rollerskiing were out of the question.

I finally went to the doctor, who thought it might be a stress fracture. The following day it was off to get a CAT Scan of my tibia. Fortunately, the test was negative (no stress fracture- just a decrease in my bank account to pay the deductible). New prognosis: bad shin splints.

I backed off the training hoping the pain would go. No deal. I finally decided to make the best of it: I hit the Vasa Ergometer. If you've been watching my training log, you'll know that I put over two hours on the Vasa Ergometer this past week. I did three doublepoling sessions of 30 minutes each. I then did an interval session, 4 x 4:00 doublepoling with 3 minutes of easy single poling between.

There's precedent to this. According to her coach, Sten Fjeldheim, Northern Michigan University skier Morgan Smyth spent 11-12 hours per week sitting in front of a Vasa Ergometer this spring during the 6 weeks she spent recovering from a leg injury. As her upper-body endurance and strength increased, she could work at higher and higher heart rates. Once back on rollerskis, her doublepoling was formidable.

If I spent 11-12 hours a week on the Vasa Ergometer, I'm sure I'd have a second overuse injury! But all skeirs can use more upper body work, so maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

Today, I went to the gym to do some core and abs work, and to ride an exercise bike. Ya, I could have ridden a real bike from my house, but I didn't want to be out in the middle of nowhere with my leg in pain. I'm happy to report that my shin felt fine after biking.

So, how am I treating my shin splints?

  • Doctor's orders: 500 mg of Naproxen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) twice a day. Ice. The Naproxen has helped tons!
  • Dell say to stretch both the front and back of my legs. (Will do, Dell!)
  • Ryan says to tie a resistance band around a couch leg, then pull the band toward me with my foot while lying on the floor. Three sets of 10-12 on each leg, until it burns. Ice afterwards. He claims I'll be healed in 5 days.

Interesting variety of treatments: anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, stretching exercises, strengthening exercises.

This week, I'll try the various recovery methods, spend more time on Ergometer, do a little biking, and maybe try a short run or rollerski...