Tim and I have recently put the kibosh on our daily 7km walks. He has his sore ankle to blame, while I’ve been experiencing an odd pain in my shin that I can’t seem to figure out.
Right below me knee, the upper portion of my tibia feels bruised to the touch, but there’s no swelling or black-and-blue. Oddly, the only thing that really aggravates it is kicking my legs while swimming freestyle or backstroke. I thought swimming was a fairly no-risk sport but in this case it seems to be worse than walking. How annoying. But then I wonder, maybe it really IS the walking that’s screwing the pooch and the freestyle is just accentuating the pain? Who knows.
I’ve got an appointment with my doc in a week. In the meantime, I’ve subbed walking and freestyle swimming for more breast stroke, and I bought a “pull buoy” so I can swim freestyle without kicking my legs. Things seemed to be getting worse until I decided that this injury was a really good excuse to start doing yoga again. For the past few mornings, I’ve started the day with about 20 minutes of easy yoga. Remarkably, the shin has been slowly improving ever since.
So what’s going on here? I’ve done my share of obsessive-google searching for “shin pain” this week and the only thing I could find was information on shin splints. What I couldn’t understand was that the pain felt like it was on the bone, freaking me out that I might have a stress fracture or something (can that even happen from walking and swimming?). But then I posted a message on the PhysioForum and someone (a physiologist presumably, but who the hell knows – this is the internet, after all) came back with the following:
the area you refer to is the attachment site for your hamstrings and some other muscles…
…and to answer anyone who might ask, on a dissection project last year, we saw the tendon and thickened fascia extend nearly 10cm down the tiba in a broad sheet, not like a finger tendon on a point insertion.
I too have had this pain when running too much.
Often it is a result of poor biomechanics. The majority of my patients have poor dynamic hip stability. The usual suspects tend to be Glut Med and other deep hip rotators. but also Iliacus and glut Max and min are also important in their roles.
It’s remarkable – for all the time I spend working out my body, I don’t really know as much as I thought about the body itself. Silly! If I’m putting this time into my muscles, I should really learn what these muscles are all about, eh’? Time for a lesson in hamstrings.
Indeed, there is a tendon that connects right to the spot where I’ve been feeling this pain. Now, I’m rubbish when I come to stretching, and I’ve had a hunch for a while now that my hams and calves are extremely tight. I suspect that this is what led to my shin pain, and now that I’m doing some yoga, those down dogs are helping me stretch out my hamstrings and ease the tension in those poor tendons.
At the same time, I still feel like I’m treading in modern jackass territory, and I look forward to hearing what the doc thinks.
In the meantime, like Tim, I’m happy I can still continue exercising while recovering from this injury. Still, let our little aches and pains be a lesson to us all:
Overuse injuries happen. Especially when you suddenly increase the intensity of your workouts. Even something as simple as walking can be a stress on the body. We were doing 7kms a day, every day. But even with walking, rest days are important. It’s easy to think “if I take a rest day, then that’s one more day between me and my fitness goals.” But remember, rest days are when all the good stuff happens: the body rebuilds and strengthens itself. You get stronger when you rest.
While you’re resting, why not take the time to get to know these muscles you’re working so hard to build? I’m thinking about ordering one of these posters from the “Anatomical Shop”:
They also sell a Illustrated Pocket Anatomy Muscular and Skeletal Systems Study Guide.
And how cool are these muscle socks??