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I've gotten shin splints on long hikes - once 2 weeks into a hike, and another time 2 months. I wasn't able to determine how I got them though, which has really annoyed me! I get that I could probably prevent them with proper stretching or warming up or something, but I'd be just as happy to understand why I would get them well into a trip.

On the first hike, it was after a really hot day (40C+) but nothing was special about the trail, just pretty easy walking. My pack was fairly heavy for me, due to lots of water, maybe 35lbs. I hiked 30km that day.

On the second hike, I got them the day after a very, very rainy day. On the rainy day I had a quite light pack at ~18lbs, hiked maybe 40km.

I'm not sure what other details might be relevant. I would say in both cases I was in reasonably good shape, certainly well past the breaking in period of a long hike.

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Shin splints (tibial stress syndrome) can be cause by tendons, muscles, or stress fractures. It's an "overuse" injury, with multiple causes, so there's not a single treatment. Some things that might help:

  1. Step softly. If you pound your feet when you hike, it can aggravate shin splints.

  2. Ease up on running a week or two before hiking. Running causes shin splints more than hiking.

  3. If you have flat feet or overpronation, you might try arch supports.

  4. Ibuprofen (or other NSAID) and ice can help the symptoms.

  5. Keep your legs warm when you hike. Neoprene calf sleeves can help with this, and the compression may help too.

  6. Running on hard surfaces (concrete, asphalt) and uneven surfaces can contribute to shin splints. A rubberized track is the best option for running. Since there are not many rubberized hiking trails, good padded soles can help for that.

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Neoprene calf sleeves can really help if you are prone to shin splints. –  justnS Jan 28 '12 at 3:41
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you might want to add that traveling over hard surfaces (gravel, concrete, asphalt) can make a runner/hiker more prone to shin splints. –  mendota Jan 28 '12 at 6:48
    
Definitely not cold in the desert... I probably do "pound" though, especially when stringing together long days and miles. hard to avoid :) –  Ryley Feb 1 '12 at 23:26
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