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27 Feb 2004

aching calves and shins while walking
i know stretching before exercise is important but besides for not stretching what are the other causes of pain in the calves and shins while walking. i usually walk on road quite briskly but find myself having to stop and stretch all the time cos the pain is generally fine until i start uphill and then the rest of my walk im uncomfortable.....any suggestions??
Answer 609 views

01 Jan 0001

There are a few causes - the term shinsplints is often used to describe the pain, although shinsplints by itself is not an injury, but rather a symptom of another injury. So, for example, you get anterior shin pain, and this is described as shinsplints.

Now, the causes also vary quite widely and include:

Inflexible calf muscles and tight Achilles tendons - place more stress on to the muscle attachments.
Overpronation (feet rotate too far inward on impact) excessive running on hard surfaces, such as concrete pavements.
Incorrect or worn shoes.
Overtraining, or a rapid increase in training load or intensity.
Beginner runners are more susceptible to this problem for a variety of reasons, but most commonly due to the fact that the leg muscles have not been stressed in such a way before they started running.

I'm not sure what your training history has been like, but the most common cause in my experience is that people start at too high a volume or intensity, and this means that the muscles and attachments are not really given a chance to become accustomed to the loading. The obvious solution is to decrease the volume by reducing the distances you walk and by taking an extra day's rest in between training days, at least until the pain subsides. It's also interesting that your pain appears to start on an uphill - usually, it's on downhills, but it's not impossible for the pain to occur on an uphill - the calf muscles would be working harder then, so the stress is higher.

It will also help to try some of the following:

Take a course (5 - 7 days) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(ibuprofen/voltaren/cataflam/mobic) available from your general practitioner or pharmacist

Apply ice to the shin area - for 10 minutes every 2 hours, in order to reduce the inflammation

Self-massage, using arnica oil or an anti-inflammatory gel, to the muscle only (along the inside of the shin).

Stretching of the calf muscles. Hold for 30 secs. Relax slowly. Repeat to opposite side. Repeat stretch 2 - 3 times per day.

Remember to stretch well before walking or running.

Strengthening of foot and calf muscles.
1) Place a weight around the foot, and move your foot up and down from the ankle, with no movement in the rest of the leg. Or use a partner to grasp the foot and provide manual resistance.
2) Band exercises. Anchor one end of an exercise band (e.g; inner tubing of bicycle) to a heavy object, such as the leg of a couch. Loop the other end around the foot. Move the foot up, down, and from side to side against the band's resistance to exercise different muscle groups.

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