View Full Version : ache on the outside of my shin

12-12-2007, 12:57 AM
I have this weird ache on the outside of my calf/shin - it's situated somewhere along the middle of the tendon (?) that runs from my ankle bone (the protruding part) up to the side of my knee. It starts aching and twinging sometimes when I'm riding, and I'm a little worried it's some kind of tendonitis moving in.

I've bumped up my weekly mileage some, but I'm also riding with studded tires now, so I think maybe my actual effort has increased by maybe 20-30% over the last 3 or 4 weeks. I don't feel the twinges specifically when I'm pedalling hard though, seems that it maybe comes when I've sat still with steady pressure for a while.

I'm trying to focus on easy gears and a higher cadence, (which is a bit harder with studded tires, you tend to bog down more and end up mashing), and "loosening" my knee and foot every now and then so that I'm not pedalling with my foot in a strange position.

Should I be doing anything else? It's not a big problem yet, but I don't know enough about typical cycling injuries to know if this is something to watch carefully. I'll be taking about a week off my bike come Christmas anyway.

12-12-2007, 03:53 AM
I know that sometimes my IT band syndrome manifests itself as tightness or pain on the outside of my calf, running between my knee and my ankle.

12-12-2007, 04:06 AM
I don't think I know what an IT band is :confused:

I forgot to mention - I've been neglecting my stretching for the past few weeks too. I usually do a fair bit of stretching, I need it for rock climbing and to balance my office job a bit, but since I've spent more time riding I haven't had time for everything. I think my shin feels better after I've done a good stretch session, but then - everything feels better after I've done a good stretch session :)

Will try to work in a few leg stretches regularly, keep the blood flowing and mobility up.

12-12-2007, 09:03 AM
Those are your peroneal tendons. You have 2 of them. One runs along underneath the ankle bone and attaches at the 5th metatarsal. The other one runs under the arch and attaches on the medial side. A burning sensation or when you're riding or an ache afterwards probably means you're pissing these tendons off and are starting to develop tendinitis there. If it gets bad, you may find that your 5th metatarsal hurts badly, like a foot stress fracture, or you may feel some pain localized around the fibular head. You may also notice that the tendons protrude more under the ankle bone on the affected side than on the other, because they are tight.

I find that massage works the best, followed by ice or a cooling rub. I developed it on one side, and it turned out to be a secondary problem. The primary issue was my pelvis alignment on that side and how that was affecting my ITB. No wonder the lateral pain and stiffness eventually moved all the way down to the calf. Stretch your hips, glutes, and ITB regularly. Then treat the calf with self-massage. Look at your position on the bike too. Are you sitting crooked at all? Does the knee on that side track more inward? Do you point the foot more outward? Is there any reason you'd be shortening and flexing those tendons more on that side than the other? Occasionally, it can be aggravated by tightness in the tibialis anterior muscle (the one at the front of your calf, just to the outside of the shin).

If nothing helps, go see a physiotherapist. He/she will check your alignment, look for tightness higher up, check your gait, and will treat the tendinitis with massage, ultrasound, ice, etc. plus strengthening exercises if needed.

12-12-2007, 10:07 AM
I love this forum :)

Thank you aicabsolut!

12-12-2007, 04:32 PM
No problem. I had to do a ton of physical therapy for that kind of tendinitis, so I'd love to try to help you avoid that. One more thought is to look at your cleat alignment as part of your position and also pedal float. I found that riding a spin bike with SPDs is what really brought it on for me and still causes flareups. That was lessened when I moved the cleat back a few millimeters, but still, I need a little bit of float. I have no problems on my road bike with KEO pedals (3.5* float), unless I'm having major pelvic alignment problems for whatever reason first. Even if my hips are doing OK, too much time on a spin bike can still aggravate things. Other than the tires, have you changed anything else about your bike setup? Maybe it's just too much extra work (mileage and strength effort) too soon?

12-12-2007, 08:09 PM
I developed a bad case of peroneal tendinitis training for a marathon last year (in my case it was an acute injury caused by a bad footfall but it's often an overuse injury). I also found massage to make a huge difference -- they did something called "postural release therapy" on me that was painful but very effective.

I am very diligent now about stretching my calves, as tight calves seemed to slow my healing & aggravate the condition.

Stretching all of the major muscles in your legs helps too.

There's a stretch you can do with a rope that I found useful when the inflammation had gone down but the tendons were still super tight -- sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, toes pointed towards the ceiling. Wrap the rope around the ball of one foot, and hold the rope about midway between your knee and your foot. Gradually pull on one side, so the sole of your foot turns towards that side (toes still pointed to the ceiling). Continue until you feel a stretch, hold and release. Do both sides on both feet.

You might also consider insoles like superfeet in your cycling shoes.