Photo: Unsplash

Injuries are like a teenage mystery novel

because to solve the mystery means to uncover the root problem of the injury. It’s the only way to truly heal.

Today’s training was awesome, I was able to troubleshoot some issues I’ve been having with my shins, and made a lot of progress in pole vault. Let’s get into it.

Overview for Monday, March 6th, 2017

  • Graston Massage (link)
  • Warmup 800m jog/skip
  • Warmup Exercises
  • Pole Vault Practice
  • Eccentric Toe Raises

Graston yesterday was awesome for my shins yesterday. If you don’t know what it is, here’s the definition of the Graston Technique from their website:

Graston Technique® is an innovative, evidence-based form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to detect and effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, as well as maintain optimal range of motion.

Basically they take a dull metal knife and massage the hell out of your muscles. It’s a pretty brutal way to break up sore/tight tissue and not for the faint of heart, but it gets the job done. Hurts so good.

Vault Progress

Here’s what most of our drills consisted of:

  • Walking plants
  • single arm pole drops
  • two step jump over tip drills
  • 3 x “20 20” runs (20 steps in 20 meters)
  • 3–4 slide box full runs

That’s a lot of pole vault lingo, but if you google them you can find detailed explanations and really helpful videos. After drills, I got on the mat and worked up to some really good 3-steps. I feel like after all the technical body work I’ve done with Coach Sam in the past few weeks, I’ve become a much more sound athlete. My body control has been better than ever and vault technique just seems a lot more intuitive.

I was extending my leg the right way, punching my arms up correctly, nailing the free take offs (jumping before the pole plants), and even finished up with some quick inversions (going upside down). Shoutout to Coach Ingrid and my teammate Benji for helping me work on my flaws. Today was a great day, and I didn’t feel like I was blowing up my shins and ankles. Hell yeah.

Peep that long plant leg. I’m ready to swing.

The Injury Mystery

Most injuries have a root problem. When you pop your hamstring, it probably wasn’t just your hamstring that was weak. It was probably your weak glutes forcing your hammies to over compensate. If your shins hurt, it might have something to do with your running mechanics . You aren’t running efficiently and your shins are taking on the beating. The injury is never what it seems because everything in your body is connected to something else. If you can figure out why you really got hurt, you might able to save yourself from future injury. If you don’t, you probably will end up hurt at some point again. Although please see a sports doctor or physical therapist if you are hurt — it is actually their job to solve that mystery…

After feeling some discomfort on the outside of my calf/shin, I decided to do some googling, and it looks like I’ve got something going on with my tibialis anterior, which is different from the inside of my shin where I was dealing with stress reactions last year. I sound crazy every time I talk about this new problem. Sometimes my ankles hurt, sometimes my calf hurts, and no matter what the trainers do, I don’t make much progress. I’m always tight, and it always feels gassed. And then I can’t practice.

So after looking into it on my own, it seems like my over pronating is the root cause and I need new running shoes to properly support that. I know my hypothesis must be somewhat valid, because this injury hurts THE worst in only two instances:

  • when I high jump because of how the takeoff foot’s ankle rolls
  • after running workouts in my trainers
Look at how his foot plants, and what over pronation looks like.

This actually never a problem when I practice in spikes (excluding high jump), probably because spikes force me to recruit the right muscles for safe running and impact. It’s time to get new running shoes.

Coach Sam has also been helping me with some eccentric toe raise exercises to strengthen those calf, ankle, and anterior tib muscles that feel weak. That will help with absorbing the blow in high jump. It’s pretty cool to have a coach that is so interested in physiology and sports medicine. A coach that can not only help heal his athletes but prevent them from getting injured again is a very powerful coach.

Before you go, here is a little bit about injuries and why technique can be the problem:

Point one explains how compensatory patterns cause injuries in other places.

Otherwise if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!


This is part of a new project of mine to share an authentic NCAA division 3 track and field experience. After 8 years of competing at the high school and college level, this is my last season of competition before graduating. Track is a pretty widely misunderstood sport so I wanted to offer as much insight into this world before saying goodbye.

For more, be sure follow me on the decathlog, twitter & instagram 👍

If you liked this post, click the 💙 to spread the love — it’s a huge visibility boost for my blog on medium.com. Thanks!!