Inflaming Opinions

Posted by Filed Under: Health & Fitness

Read the entire account of Mike’s experience: part one, part two, part three, and part four.

I can’t say my second day in Canyon Ranch’s peak performance program started the way I like. After a 12-hour fast I had a 7:30 a.m. appointment for a blood draw.

Dr. Stephen Brewer, Canyon Ranch’s medical director, kindly invited me to attend the peak performance staff meeting at 8 a.m. I readily agreed, but wondered whether I would be tested while in a state of keen hunger.

I was introduced around, but names and faces began to blur as I spied the bagels and cream cheese (obviously contraband) on the conference room table. No doubt fearing the ravenous look in my eyes, I was told to help myself. I’m not proud to confess the meeting commenced amidst a blizzard of bagel crumbs.

The topic of discussion was shin splints, in honor of my presence and my recent bout with same. Dr. Richard Gerhauser, like most of the peak performance staff, is an impressive athlete in his own right, and explained the fundamentals of medial tibial stress syndrome.


I explained how I had treated my shins with ice and ibuprofen when Dr. Gerhauser suggested that reducing inflammation was not always the best approach to take.

Heresy! I thought. Thou shalt treat shin splints with rest, ice and Advil, sayeth the Mayo Clinic and every other shin splint advice column on the Internet.

But Dr. Gerhauser explained the role of inflammation in healing. Reducing inflammation brings relief, but it can also extend recovery time. Assuming you have no immune system complications, this makes some sense and may help explain the findings of the British Journal of Sports Medicine about ice baths. Participants who soaked in ice baths after activity reported more pain than those who did not.

I can’t say I’m entirely convinced, but a little research did determine that inflammation is a lot more complicated medical topic than I had imagined. My brilliant plan is to simply avoid it whenever possible.

Next up was my dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan. Find out next week how much I charge to haunt a house!

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Lee Miller on September 14th at 9:48 am

    Hey Mike. Regarding the inflammation issue. The phrase “all things in moderation” applies. We do need inflammation to bring in the cells to heal damage and digest debris etc, but sometimes (for numerous reasons) the body goes into overdrive with inflammation. At this point, too much inflammation will hinder repair and possibly cause long term detriment such as excessive scar tissue. So my humble opinion is that each case is unique, and only when you have too much of a good thing is inflammation an issue.

  2. Guille on September 17th at 6:28 am

    Did he offer any alternative treatments?

    I have what I think is a mild case of shin splints, and I find that applying ice after my runs really helps… I’d be interesting in knowing if I should be doing anything better.

  3. My Legs Are Eccentric » Complete Running Network on September 21st at 8:10 am

    […] on Inflaming Opinions: Did he offer any alternative treatments? I have what I think is a mild case of shin splints, and I […]

  4. Michelle on February 7th at 12:13 pm

    I also have a case of shin splints. They hurt bad. I really wish they would go away. Though, they did give me a good project to work on! Ice, binding, elastic band just below knee, and tapping the foot always helps me out!