new year's resolution fail
January 4, 2012 6:35 AM   Subscribe

I went for a rather long, brisk walk yesterday after an extended period of holiday-season inactivity and didn't think to stretch first (stupid, I know). Now I've got lower leg pain along the front where the leg meets the ankle, and the balls of my feet are hurting. Can anyone recommend some stretches or something else that will make the pain go away for now?

It isn't serious pain, but I'd like to go for the same walk again today and I simply can't walk that fast again. I could hobble the same distance but I doubt it will burn the same amount of calories. I've got good walking shoes on.

I do this walk semi-regularly and only experience pain like this when I am resuming it after a period of inactivity.

Cheers peeps :)
posted by Ziggy500 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
lower leg pain along the front where the leg meets the ankle

Is that on your shins? Could be shin splints, the remedies for which are ice, anti-inflammatory painkillers, and rest.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:41 AM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, sounds like you started in too intensely, especially after a bout of inactivity. Go easy for the next few days, either walk slower or truncate the walk, until you build up some resistance.
posted by LN at 6:45 AM on January 4, 2012

EndsOfInvention has a good point. But here's a stretch that always, at the very least, feels *great* to me:
In bare feet, stand behind a couch or something else solid upon which you can support most of your weight via your arms. Roll one foot, then the other, over - so the tops of your toes are on the floor supporting your weight. In effect, you're making a fist with your feet. Now here's the trick: while still supporting most of your weight with your arms, BEND YOUR KNEES, so you're sticking your ass out away from the couch. This puts a great stretch on the shins.
posted by notsnot at 6:49 AM on January 4, 2012

Shin splints are caused by weak shin muscles. EndsOfInvention is right about how to treat them right now. For some preventative measures, you'll want to stretch you your calf muscles regularly. In addition to stretching and slowly ramping up your exercise, you can strengthen your shin muscles by walking around on your heels (with your toes pointed up) when no one's watching.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 6:59 AM on January 4, 2012

Best answer: Won't make you feel better physically, but you might want to know that it wasn't stupid to not stretch: "The bulk of the available science strongly suggests that static stretching before a workout not only does not prevent overuse injuries but also may actually hinder athletic performance."

As others said, you need to ramp up the intensity gradually, over a period of days or weeks. Also, start out each session gradually to give your muscles time to warm up.

In the meantime, a bit of ibuprofen might reduce pain and inflammationa and allow you to resume walking a bit earlier than without painkillers. But there's also the risk of it covering up the pain, so again, don't overdo it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:19 AM on January 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

If it is in both legs then it is almost certainly shin splints.
posted by srboisvert at 8:56 AM on January 4, 2012

Best answer: Get a tennis ball or lacrosse ball, put it on the floor and roll the arch and ball of your foot over it. The lacrosse ball may hurt initially, but will feel wonderful after a couple of minutes. You can try to roll the ball across the sore buts on your ankle, but it probably won't be as effective. This will help the soreness your feeling now.

You're probably simply sore; everyone gets sore after getting back to their fitness routine. Unless you actually injured yourself on your last walk(did you feel something that hurt when you were walking?), you would do well to at least go on a shorter walk to help the recovery along. It's just like when you're sore after lifting weights; it's uncomfortable but it is not an injury and shouldn't stop you from continuing your program.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:06 AM on January 4, 2012

Best answer: hi Ziggy500,

you do not have "shin splints" in the classic sense unless you have somehow walked yourself into stress fractures.

What I'm willing to bet you DO have is "delayed onset muscle soreness", which anyone who's done a long hard hike or started running after being sedentary can tell you about.

Ice, gentle mobilization like getting up to walk around every half hour or so (you don't necessarily have to stretch, but do be aware that the more you "guard" the soreness and keep it still, the longer it will take to go away) and some NSAID (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) that you have and/or tolerate well will help in the short run. To loosen up the stiffness after the initial pain has worn off, I'd recommend using a small ball like a racquetball or hi-bounce ball to roll & massage the cramps/soreness and achy spots out of your feet and shins.

Don't stop walking just because of DOMS. It's common for beginners at any exercise level or even conditioned athletes taking on more volume or something unfamiliar; hell I am pretty athletic and I get this from shovelling snow every winter.

When you work the knots out of your shins, don't forget to do your calves, either. If you have a rolling pin, this is a great use for it - roll it up and down your shins and calves to work the stiff spots & knots out. Gently mobilize (not necessarily a "stretch" but do a full range-of-motion mobilization) after each rolling session.

And drink water, dehydration is a total bitch when you have DOMS... hehe
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:09 AM on January 4, 2012

Every year when I switch from my tennies to bigger (and waterproof) hiking boots, I get really sore in the front of my shins, along the outside edge of my shins - in the muscle or soft tissue. This is very different from the shin splints, which for me tend to be more on the bone (so the inside edge of my shins). I'm guessing what you have is similar. Gentle massage as described by lonefrontranger and others seems to help, but just using them again (within reason) seems to usually do the trick.
posted by lab.beetle at 10:54 AM on January 4, 2012

I also have pain on the front of the leg where the leg and the ankle meet. I've seen it referred to as anterior tibial tendonitis. I have gleaned some of the following tips over time from discussion on runners' forums and web sites of dubious authorship, but they work for me. YMMV.

I've had success with: lacing my shoes more loosely, icing, NSAIDs like Motrin or Advil, taking shorter strides, calf stretches (specifically the one that no regrets, coyote mentions above) and shin stretches (one that I use is to sit on my shins on the floor, place my hands on the floor in front of my knees and raise myself off the floor).

None of those things has brought permanent relief for me; after periods of inactivity or when ramping up to a new level in my exercise program, I have to ease into the new activity gradually and try one or more of the above remedies to keep the ATT at bay.
posted by initapplette at 3:03 PM on January 4, 2012

Response by poster: Well the shin pain is gone but the pain underneath my feet is still there so it seems like simply soreness as suggested by lonefrontranger, not something specifically shin-related. I did hobble a few miles yesterday and actually it feels better once I've been walking for a bit. Thanks for all your help! :)
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:50 AM on January 5, 2012

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