Walking hurts!
October 2, 2007 9:45 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes my shins hurt when I'm walking alone. It never happens when I'm walking with someone else.

The pain starts light but it gets intense very quickly and I have to slow down to a crawl (which lowers the intensity) or stop (which makes it stop).

I'm sedentary but I've walked long distances with other people with no pain at all. I'm in the higher limits of what is defined as 'normal weight' but I doubt that's the problem as I think it would affect me all the time, right?
posted by Memo to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When you're alone, do you walk faster?
posted by contessa at 9:49 AM on October 2, 2007

I tend to walk faster when I'm on my own because I'm more goal oriented as opposed to just enjoying the walk. I notice the same thing.
posted by zennoshinjou at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2007

Response by poster: Yes, I tend to walk faster when I'm alone. Is that the reason?
posted by Memo at 10:02 AM on October 2, 2007

Yes, I tend to walk faster when I'm alone. Is that the reason?

More than likely it is the reason. While your best exercise is to walk briskly you probably need to pace yourself. If you listen to an iPod or something while you walk, try listening to mid-tempo music to see if that helps you slow your walking while you are alone.
posted by contessa at 10:11 AM on October 2, 2007

It sounds like you are putting more pressure on the shins through walking faster, and so you may have a mild case of shin splints:
You probably find the problem worsens if you run (?)
Best thing is to give it a bit of a rest for a bit, and try and tread less forcefully
posted by Marzipan at 10:11 AM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the way you walk is necessarily the cause. Ages ago, when I was in school and first ran cross country, I would always have horrible shin splints whenever I ran alone. When in a group, I never had any trouble at all. I didn't run differently in one situation or another, I just had trouble with motivation and spent all my time alone thinking how hard it was to do what I was doing. In a group, when we were talking and goofing around, no such trouble.

The effect was purely psychological, and went away after I got more used to running, especially running alone. I suspect something similar could be at work for you -- have you tried distracting yourself with music or something?
posted by dseaton at 10:26 AM on October 2, 2007

when you walk with other people, are you walking on pavement/sidewalk or dirt?

if you have a mild case of shin splints (i have them as well), walking on a hard surface will cause the shin splints to flare faster than while walking on dirt or gravel or something like that.

also, when you're wlaking with other people, the distraction of another person (talking, etc) can help your brain "miss" the pain that is developing in your legs.
posted by Stynxno at 10:28 AM on October 2, 2007

Response by poster: As far as I remember when I tried jogging it didn't cause the same type of pain. I mean, it hurt because I wasn't used to it but it was a different type of pain.

I listen to music when I'm walking so I guess it doesn't distract me enough.

I tend to notice it more when I'm walking alone on the sidewalk, but it doesn't happen when I'm with someone else in the same sidewalk. For example I can experience pain while I'm walking to a friend's house but 5 minutes later when I'm walking with him to somewhere else nothing happens.
posted by Memo at 10:34 AM on October 2, 2007

Seconding shin splints. When I first moved to the hilly city I live in, my usual fast pace of walking cursed me with the them. After easing off a bit (and cycling more) the pain abated. They hurt more the faster I walked, as I used more force when I pushed my toes against the pavement.

Of course if pain persists, see a Doctor.
posted by Luddite at 10:40 AM on October 2, 2007

It sounds like shin splints to me too. I find that eating a banana earlier in the day (potassium) helps. And that the best way to end the pain is to walk through it. For me, at least, it stops after ten or fifteen minutes of good walking.
It never occurred to me before, but I think I mostly get them alone too.
posted by smoakes at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2007

I agree that it's shin splints. A good stretch I learned when playing soccer that seems to help me is:

Sit on the floor with one leg folded (cross-legged-style) and the other leg bent in front of you with your foot flat on the floor.

Tap the toe of the outstretched foot a bunch of times (until you start to feel a burn in your calf/shin. It doesn't feel the same as splints, but you feel a little burn). Maybe 50-75 times. You can do it pretty fast, since you're keeping your heel on the floor.

Switch legs.

It's like, the miracle prevention.
posted by mckenney at 3:44 PM on October 2, 2007

You could simply be tense when you walk alone.
posted by callmejay at 4:58 PM on October 2, 2007

I was wondering the same thing that callmejay suggests. Are you more relaxed when you are walking with a friend?
posted by jeanmari at 4:28 AM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: I think so. I tried walking slower and more relaxed today and while the pain appeared I was able to control it by relaxing my legs a little.
posted by Memo at 10:16 AM on October 4, 2007

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