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Thread: Shin Splints

  1. #1
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    Shin Splints

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    Anyone else have experience with shin splints? I'm currently dealing with Tham and am curious how others have dealt with them. I don't want to give up hiking this fall as I don't have any other cardio-related activity open to me but I don't want to do myself even more damage. The problem is it doesn't hurt until I go too far...

    Any success with a calf sleeve, or am I fooling myself?

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  2. #2
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    I had them many, many years ago, when I was teaching aerobics on concrete floors, covered by carpet. I went to the doctor (podiatrist?) and I remember doing lots of pointing/flexing of my lower legs to stretch, hydrotherapy, and custom orthotics. It was so long ago, that my insurance actually paid the entire $500.00 cost, with no co-payment.
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  3. #3
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    It's been years, but I think when I had them it was because I was walking too fast.

    I would think there would be articles in running magazines that would be useful.

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  4. #4
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    I've been looking but all they say to do is to rest and stretch. I'm doing that I think I know what it was from, and it was around before my 11 mile hike as I remember the week before I had to call an early end to a hike (that featured gravel) due to foot/shin cramps - I had no idea what that meant at the time. The 11 mile hike just really aggravated it. My chiropractor says it is improving, he sees a lot of this from his professional athletes. My podiatrist just says to make certain I'm doing my calf stretches but to make certain they are gentle, not over-stretching. I will probably cancel next Saturday, but we will see. I suspect a 3+mile hike isn't, in the end, actually resting

    I guess there is no way to speed up the healing process, unfortunately.

  5. #5
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    I had chronic shin splints in my 20s from doing high-impact aerobics. I don't think I've ever really had them since I gave that up quite a few years ago! I have gotten sore muscles on front of my shins from walking/hiking hills after being in flat areas, but I can't recall having shin splints. Seems like I remember reading that a lot of shin splints are caused by micro-stress fractures in the shin bones themselves. You can press right on the bone and feel the pain in a very small area in that case. Sure hope that's not your problem, Catrin, as only rest and not doing the activity will cure those. I'm pretty sure that's what I had back in those days thirty years ago. They hurt like H*LL!
    Emily

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  6. #6
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    According to my sports-chiro-quy, my shin splints haven't crossed over the line to micro-stress fractures, thankfully he deals with a lot of this. There is obvious damage to my connective tissues around an area of my tibia in both legs, thought it's far worse in one. I do have some thoughts on how this may have happened and will discuss this with my podiatrist. Regardless of that, it's also true that I've a history of over-doing my physical activities. Thankfully the cramping has calmed, and since I've been good (well, mostly), there isn't much actual pain - but I do have a high tolerance, too high sometimes because I get to thinking that I can get back at my preferred activities at a time when my body hasn't healed enough. I certainly do not want my ego to push my shin splints over the stress-fracture line! I HAVE canceled the group hike this weekend, sadly. There will be other opportunities.

    It's frustrating though, my exercise options grow even thinner. THIS one, however, isn't permanent like so many things have been.

    Emily, I hope you never have that problem again, hopefully you're done with that.

  7. #7
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    That's good to know that you don't actually have stress fractures, Catrin! I never went to the doc for mine so am just conjecturing that mine might have been that, back in the day. Mine may have actually been like yours, but I just know they hurt and pretty much ended my high-impact aerobic days. I switched to low impact and step classes and did much better. Don't do any of that now and have not had any further shin splint issues from hiking or my short runs for decades, thank goodness.

    I think you were smart to cancel the hike, but I know how frustrated you are! Here's hoping you'll heal up quickly from here on out.
    Emily

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  8. #8
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    Saw my podiatrist yesterday and he was chagrined once he figured out what happened. Other people get orthotics to HEAL shin splints, I am the only one to actually GET shin splints from my orthotics.

    Well, it was the interaction between orthotics and my beloved rigid backpacking hiking boots that just created an overly rigid situation that sent a lot of force up my shins and he didn't think to warn me - but he hadn't seen my hiking boots before yesterday. Those 11 miles didn't help, but that's life. I did enjoy that hike. Bottom line, if I want to continue using the orthotics, and I do, come spring there will be a new pair of hiking SHOES - probably Keene's higher topped version of my shoes. I do need the ankle support. My feet appear to to like hiking in them with the orthotics.

    The shins are far from healed, but he thought it was safe to do light hiking, just no more 11 mile hikes for now and flatter is better than hilly, for now.

  9. #9
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    I could see that sort of thing happening to me -- when I tried to add a metatarsal button on top of the insoles in my bike shoes last year, I ended up in more pain than I had been without them. And a few years ago I tried new Shimano insoles in the bike shoes that caused all sorts of leg pains, because it changes the angle of my feet ever so slightly.

    But at least now you know what caused the problem and are on the road to recovery.

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  10. #10
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    Yes, thanks NY Biker. I DO love those hiking boots, in my pre-orthotic days that was the only way I could hike. Not totally pain free but it was minimal, especially on real dirt trails. Thankfully my experiment with my Keene shoes with the orthotic last week was not only fine, but even less pain than with the hiking boots (though my ankles made it plain that I really need higher shoes). Those boots were spendy, but they made it possible to hike for a full year when I otherwise could not have done so. I'm thankful.

    As always when I think about this, I'm struck by how expensive it can be to stay active at the "normal" level after a certain level of injuries, etc. Thankfully I've managed to scrape together enough to keep going, but it always makes me think of those who simply do not have the ability to find the money and are therefore trapped on the couch because it hurts too much to do anything else. Sobering.

  11. #11
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    So true. I have a few clients who would really benefit from a water rehab program that is part of the local hospital wellness program. Unfortunately, insurance does not pay for it. I know in cases where insurance has paid for stuff like this, with a little help from a physician, but it's not going to happen in these cases. I have offered to advocate and call the physician, but the offer has been refused.
    On the other hand, I have to bite my tongue and not talk about some of the less than healthy things some of these people spend money on. We make stuff like hiking shoes a priority, because activity is so much a part of our lifestyle. I just hope that as activity becomes more of a prescription by physicians, more of these things will be paid for.
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  12. #12
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    Agreed Crankin. Sometimes I think part of what feeds that decision making process is the underlying belief that there are no other real options that would hurt less. How many doctors these days are still more inclined to prescribe pills rather than activity when that is still possible? Preaching to the choir here.

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  13. #13
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    I think an investment in good equipment is also necessary to prevent problems from developing. I'm pretty sure one reason I destroyed an ankle tendon when I was younger was that I did lots and lots of walking, but always in bad shoes with no arch support.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  14. #14
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    Oh, I know I am preaching to the choir.
    After my first 5 years of teaching aerobics, after shin splints and a stress fracture, I started buying decent shoes and got orthotics. I did get a discount from Nike, but for all of those years, I wore that brand because of the discount, for probably the next 15 years. I never thought that my feet were burning after about 15 minutes because the shoes were too damn narrow for me!
    And yes, most physicians would rather prescribe a pill. I think in some way, it's because they know a lot of people won't follow an exercise prescription. There's about a 50% compliance rate for taking meds, so even that is hard for some to do.
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  15. #15
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    Agreed Crankin, though I didn't know that medication compliance was that low.

    According to both chiropractor and podiatrist, my splints have improved enough that I can return to hiking again. Within reason and keeping in mind that it will likely take most of the winter for my left leg (the worst of the two by far) to fully heal.

    I'm celebrating today by parking 1.5 miles from work and walking - also to enjoy the almost unprecedented 70 degree temps this afternoon

 

 

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