View Full Version : Shin splints

11-19-2011, 11:13
I'm curious if there is any recommended footwear for thru-hiking that may help reduce the flare up of shin splints, something that I can be prone to on long walks?

11-19-2011, 11:23
Stretch, stretch stretch. The only thing that helped me. On my knees, toes pointed back, lean back as far as my fat belly would let me and hold for 10 seconds. relax, do it again. roll a little left and right to round out the stretch and while you're at it, stretch the rest of your legs. Foot on a rock, stump, something and lean forward, both legs.

Splints is, according to what I looked up, just a sudden burst of excercise to cold, unused muscles and ligaments in your legs specifically the shin area. I darn near crippled myself for 2 weeks then finally looked it up, did the stretches 2 days later was better then ever.

Pedaling Fool
11-19-2011, 11:23
There is no magical footwear, only physical conditioning, but I'm sure others will disagree.

11-19-2011, 11:29
Why is it that the obvious is so elusive to me? Stretching makes sense. Works on other parts of the body, why not the shins?
Thanks mrclean. I'll try that out on my hike tomorrow.

11-19-2011, 11:33
Sounds like you're over pronating when you walk . Go to a shoe store where you can have your feet fitted for a custom Orthotic insert to put inside the shoe.

If that doesn't help then I'd see a podiatrist to make sure that this isn't a more serious problem .

Pedaling Fool
11-19-2011, 11:42
Seems to me we all over-pronate while walking on the AT, since it's nothing like walking on a sidewalk.

NOTE: I don't know if the OP has ever walked on the AT, but even if he hasn't any pronation he has will be even more pronounce on the AT. I know my foot has collapsed inward to the point of feeling it in the knees, but I eventually became accustomed. When you watch all the different videos of pronation, notice they are all either on pavement or a treadmill.

Pedaling Fool
11-19-2011, 12:37
BTW, it should be pointed out that there are different types of shin splints and depending on the type it can be caused by different factors, including underpronation or even supination, which to me is even more common on the AT and usually results in a "twisted ankle".

But in the end it all comes down to the same remedy - physical conditioning. As for getting the correct footware, I've never really paid attention to footwear and I've even worn customed fitted boots, but still experienced shin splints and foot pain, physical conditioning was the only fix.

However, if you really want to focus on the footwear the only real way to do it is go to a foot specialist, no one here can say if you're over/underpronating or possibly have a supination problem. I've never been to a foot specialist, thus I have no idea how my feet lands, (other than I know I don't do heelstrikes while running) and really don't care because physical conditioning seems to have fixed all my problems. Stretching is a part of phy. cond., although simply stretching will help, it will not work on its own, just gotta get out there and walk and as you walk, especially on the AT, it will strenghthen up that area, as well as keep it flexible, since it's nothing like walking on flat pavement.

11-19-2011, 13:07
True , Shin splints are generally related to runners more so than hikers that's why I suggested getting a Podiatrist involved if simple stretching exercises and proper footwear don't do the trick.
Bone related shin splints are more typical causing overloading on the lower leg which can lead to other more severe issues like stess fractures that can take forever to properly heal.

11-19-2011, 13:36
This girl Clarity, who did free Yoga for all who showed up on the AT2010 used to tell me, "Do the Alphabet with your feet every morning"- shaping out the letters whilst you sit down - I believe it helped me, just a fun form of stretching/loosening up but it works.

11-19-2011, 17:57
I agree with conditioning. Hiking more may be the best solution, but supplemental training can be done at home even while watching television.

11-19-2011, 19:19
A physical therapist can show you exercises that will help strengthen your anterior compartment of the leg, which will help prevent if not completely resolve shin splints.

01-08-2012, 13:54
You may want to try an orthotic arch support especially if you have flat feet (low arches) or high arched feet.

01-08-2012, 23:20
If you happen to get shin splints along the trail, buy all means take some time off the trail and ice the area frequently. On the PCT I pushed myself to hard on the long down hills. I had to take four days off the trail at VVR. Prior to hiking the PCT in 08 I worked out in a gym three days a week for several months and the workouts included strenthening and stretching my lower leg muscles. When you push yourself to the limits, be sensitve to your body aches and ease up and rest.

01-08-2012, 23:30
Warm up stretching is the answer for me before walking / running. I've never gotten shin splints backpacking for whatever reason.

01-09-2012, 00:13
Shin splints happen when your muscles and tendons become fatigued and you start walking wrong, thus putting extra stress on your shin bone. It's an over-use injury that can be prevented by proper conditioning. I usually associate them with me being out of shape, running too far, and heel-striking on hard surfaces. More importantly, it tends to be a condition exasperated by repetitive motion.

Due to the varied (read "crappy") terrain on the AT, shin splints aren't as prominent as other over-use injuries (knees). Every step bends your ankle in a different direction, almost "naturally" stretching your muscles and tendons as you walk.

That being said, orthopedic insoles are worth the money. Pull your insole out of your shoe. 99% of the time, the insoles that came with your shoes are utter crap. They'll be ruined in less than 100 miles, as will any "gel" insole. There are several options for orthotics. Superfeet is the most common with outfitters, but there are other brands entering the market. An alternative is to have a podiatrist make you a custom pair. Some people report the quality insoles lasting 2000+ miles. Mine lasted about 1000 a pair, or two pairs of shoes.

01-09-2012, 00:18
Stretch. It is still hurts.......rest.

01-09-2012, 10:19
You need to strengthen your calf muscles and the muscles on the front of your shins. Here are 2 specific exercises that will help:

1) Stand with your back flat against a wall, your feet about 1' away from the wall and 1' apart, and your knees straight. Lift your toes slowly using the muscles on the front of your shins and then slowly let them down, taking about 1-2 seconds per rep. Do this 10 times. Between reps, don't let your toes come all the way to the ground; always keep them suspended a bit. Then do the same exercise as fast as you can for 10 more reps. Work up to doing 2 sets of 20 reps of each exercise.

2) Stand on one foot (hold something for balance if necessary but try not to). Stand up on your toe and slowly let your leg down. Start with one set of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 20. If this is too easy, hold something heavy in your hands. This is great for your calf muscles and the smaller muscles that stabilize your lower legs and ankles.

01-09-2012, 11:01
As a former long distance runner, shin splints were always a problem. I have found one simple exercise. Your calf muscles build faster than the muscles along the front of your legs (shins). Sit with your feet off the ground. Take a 5 lb. plate weight and run a rope thru the center. Place the rope over your toes. Raise the weight up and down with your foot. Keeping your leg straight. You can instantly feel the pull on your shins. Do this exercise with more or less weight which ever works for you. As your shin muscles build the pain will disapper. I hope I explained this well enough to be useful.