View Full Version : Shin Splints

02-24-2003, 19:59
I was wondering if any thru hikers suffered from shin splints???

I often had problems years back when i was in high school running track. I dont have a problem now unless i run over 80 miles a week. And well on the trail i could see myself having a few big weeks.


02-24-2003, 21:17
I've had to deal with shin splints. It has always started with doing too many 20 milers in a row. Lower the mileage, stretch in the AM, during the day, and at night. Take lots of IB and when in town use ice. When on the trail use an icy cold platypus compress during rest stops and at night or stand in an icy steam. You know the RICE routine.

Last year I felt the right shin start to act up on the 25 miler into Damascus. By the time I hit Partnership shelter (many miles north), I was in severe pain. Luckily, a good friend was meeting me and took me into Marion where I iced up at the Best Western. Lowered my mileage to closer to 10 mile days, lots of ice at the Village Motel, 2000 mg of IB for several days, and it all worked itself out.


02-24-2003, 22:36
Last year I seemed to get a mild case around Va and they would come and go. It hurt so bad by Port Clinton I thought I would have to get off the trail.After that I slowed down and stopped pounding so hard on the downhills. Also Paradox(a socker player) told me to do this exercise were you pick a small ball with your toes.

Sleepy the Arab
02-24-2003, 23:30
I had several episodes of shin splints in '01, the first as I came into Tellico Gap NC, the last started my second day in the 100 mile wilderness. I really have no good advice on this subject however; what worked for me was ibuprofin and nightly leg massage. I know some hikers swear by Vioxx as it is an anti-inflammitory (albeit for arthritis). Luckily I had no chronic reoccurrance which would have most assuredly have ended my hike. Then again, it does help to be extremely stubborn!

steve hiker
02-25-2003, 00:53
I talked to someone who's pretty familiar with the condition in both humans and animals, and she said it's important to slow down but not stop hiking when you get shin splints. Said it's best to just reduce your pace and keep hiking, but much slower and easier.

Said it happens when a tendon (?) separates from the femar temporarily after you've changed the daily stress level in your walking style. Such as going from urban concrete to dirt, or from moderate daily distances to long distances.

02-25-2003, 12:05
Would Jumping rope help? I get shin splints pretty regularly, anytime I get lazy then start hiking again. I think the front of the leg lifts the foot up so maybe jumping rope won't help, unless stopping oneself as you come back down toughins it up.

02-25-2003, 12:33
I got shin splints just after Hot Springs. They lasted a little over a week and I was feeling fine by the time I got near Damascus. I'm not sure what caused them. I got the right one first for about 3 days, then it started to heal and the left one kicked in. No pain going up hill, but down was not fun. Mostly it slowed my pace down a bit, which meant I hiked until 7 rather than 5 or 6. It could have been the Salomon shoes, it could have been mileage (low 20s). I'm not sure. I'm running harder now in an attempt to prevent shin splints from coming back this summer. I also do what stretching I can, particularly since the stretches for shin splints are the same as for the achilles, something I hurt a few years ago.

02-25-2003, 17:34
I'm a newbie, planning on a thru-hike in '03. I've never had shin-splints, but saw so much mention of them in journals, on forums, etc, that I asked my fitness coach for some exercises to prevent them that I can start doing now.

I stand on a block, with only my heels on it. Point my toes all the way down, and then raise them all the way up. This stretches the achilles as well as strengthening the musles in front. When I get good at these, I'll start doing something similar but using cables with light weights. I'm also doing calf exercises, and stretching (I'm woefully un-limber). I hope this ounce of prevention does the trick!

02-26-2003, 10:21
Another similar stretching excercise is standing on the edge of a board with the back 2/3 of your feet hanging off the edge. Then slowly raise and lower yourself. Seemed to work for some people.

SGT Rock
02-26-2003, 22:41
I've been meaning to write an article about this for my site as it seems to be one of the big problems for hikers just starting out, and I have had some experience with them. By the way, I'm not an expert by any means.

If you start to experience shin pain, it is import as to where. The term shin splints can mean a few different actual problems. There are basically two types of shin pain to consider. Pain in the front part of the shin pain is probably the most common for someone starting a program of exercise (like hiking) and the one I'll talk the most about because I often suffer from this after a lay off from running while in the field and I start to get back into shape.

To "cure" this form of pain, the solution is multi pronged approach. To start with, if you are prone to this type of pain like I am, you can do exercises prior to hiking that can help alleviate the problem. The exercise can be as simple as a flat heel toe tap where you raise the toes of the foot as high as possible - I often do this when sitting around by doing 100 with a foot, then alternating.

Another exercise is to stand on a curb or other raised surface and hold onto something for balance. You stand with only your toes on the raised surface and your heels hang off. Raise your body with just your toes, then lower back down as low as you can.

You can also do some of these exercises with a towel or other object like an elastic band, bungee, or rope to offer resistance. The key is to exercise as much as possible with a full range of motion. If you are on the trail and you start to get shin splints, you can do these exercises in camp or at breaks and it will help.

When you get ready to start your hiking day, a warm up of the lower legs is also a good idea. To warm up, walk about 20 minutes at a slow to moderate pace instead of flat out normal hiking. At the end of 20 minutes, drop your pack and take a "standing break" where you don't sit down, but do calf stretches. My favorite is to get in a push-up position but not as spread out and push down on the heel of one foot with the other foot. Hold the stretch a count of 20-30 seconds, then switch. Do this a few times with other positions to stretch. The stretch should not be ballistic (bouncing) stretches, but slow passive stretching that slowly elongates the muscles and tendons.

Another great product I was recently hipped to was Aleve. the active stuff in Aleve is Naproxen (sp?) which has the characteristics of Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) and Tylenol / aspirin (fever and pain reduction) in one 250mg pill that only needs a two times a day dose. It also acts faster than ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is still a good med, but there are a lot of people that have misconceptions about how ibuprofen works. In order for ibuprofen to work correctly, it needs 12-24 hours in your system to take effect, and must be continuously dosed to work. If you take some and feel better right away, it is your body doing the medicating itself and not the ibuprofen, and if you miss a dose, it can take a while to get enough to work again. Since I've started using Naproxen, I need less and lower doses as a 250mg of that is as powerful as an 800mg ibuprofen. I got a 500mg prescription so I can cut pills or take a whole as needed and Naproxen has replaced two different pills in my kit.

When in camp and sleeping, raise the feet above heart level to help get the blood out. Shin splints normally cause swelling in the leg, can lead to pooling of the blood in the legs as well as numbness.

The other type of shin splints usually happen on the back side of the shin and are normally caused by training too hard with improper biomechanics (that is the Army definition) but it normally means you have flat feet or are training on a slanted surface like a road side where the road has a high middle. Treatment of this type of shin splint is similar to the other.

A way to help prevent both types of leg injury is to get the correct shoe type. I'm mainly talking about running shoe here because running shoes are made to work with the feet unlike some hiking boots which beat the crap out of your feet and expect your feet to adapt. Inserts and foot beds are not always the answer and just buying any old trail/running shoe may not be either. You need to find your foot type and get the right shoe type - for me I need a cushion soled running shoe because I have exceptionally high arches.

Again, I'm not an expert, and I'm working on getting some Whiteblaze articles done by a doctor that may cover this better.

04-13-2003, 19:56
I started to have shin splints while running in orienteering meets a few years ago. It felt like the front of my lower legs were on Fire! A club member gave me a simple and quick exercise to try out and it worked great for me.
Find a tree that is thick enough to not bend when you pull on it, but not so wide that you can't get your hands around it ( 8-12 "). Put your heel on the ground as close to the tree as you can and your toes leaning up on to the bark. Put both hands around the tree and at the same level and pull your body towards the tree with the other foot raised off the ground behind you, just a bit so that all your weight is pulling down towards the heel. Hold for a few seconds then repeat. Change legs every few pulls.
This works fast for me and I hope it helps for you as well.

NOTE: no trees were ever harmed during this routine.

Wander Yonder
04-19-2003, 21:15
I kept hiking with shin splints. The muscles started breaking down, the protein bonded with water, and I started retaining water so badly that my legs looked like elephant legs and my facial features almost disappeared.

It took over a week after I got off the trail for the swelling to go down. Now I am working with stretching, massages and easy walking to get back in shape. Am also taking Celebrex for inflammation.

04-22-2003, 20:04
I had no idea that shin splints could get so serious. You (Wander Yonder) must have really been in terrible pain. I consider myself fortunate that I'm able to stretch my shins to where I can walk again in comfort. I wanted to educate myself more on this condition and found some great info on WWW.medicinet.com on causes, meds and recovery. It's considered an "overuse injury". Click on Diseases and Conditions then on Shin Splints. I 've been following your journal and felt saddened by your leaving the trail, but truly delighted that you're not going to "quit". It is encouraging to me for my own "05 thru-hike. Thanks and Good Luck

Wander Yonder
04-22-2003, 20:25
Rancid, thanks for the link. I will definitely check it out!

Yes, the shin splints were painful. But I am surprised at how fast they are responding to stretching, massage and heat.

I did a nice day hike today in the Alabama mountains today -- gentle ups and downs to start with. And I only carried a 20 pound pack (no food!) The shin splints didn't bother me!

I will gradually work on building stamina on the uphills and will be back on the trail as soon as I feel I am up to it.

I have gotten some great advice about not setting goals that set me up for failure. So I plan to think more along the lines of consecutive section hikes than one long hike this year. I will just do a section, rest a day or two, and do another section. That way I can just enjoy the hike instead of stressing about how many miles I have to do.

What is marvelous--better than anything else I can think of--is just to be out there. :)

04-23-2003, 07:31
I suffer from Achilles tendonitis, another overuse injury exacerbated by my tendency to charge up that first hill in the morning with my toes pointed forward without sufficiently stretching first.

I now stretch out (stand on a step, let the heel down slowly until you feel the stretch, and slightly bend the knee to stretch the Achilles instead of the calf), start out slower, and concentrate on pointing my toes outward while I climb.