I apologize in advance if this comes out as more of a rant than anything else but I'm starting to get really frustrated and worried that my skiing days are over. At least maybe I can help someone not make the same mistakes as me but if anyone has any advice for me, I'm happy to hear it. Warning, it’s a bit long.
Last year I moved to Whistler and took about a 6 month break from working, which was great. Unfortunately, as I went from a weekend warrior at a small hill to skiing long runs 8 hours a day, every day, my body got a bit of a shock I think. After about 35 days of skiing in a row, my shins were quite painful and getting worse every day. Of course, I kept skiing through the pain and a few days later, I had a very backseat landing off a small 5 foot drop which gave me immediate, excruciating pain in my right shin and I knew I was done as I could barely walk.
Of course, I didn't go see a doctor then, thinking I just needed some time off. After about a week, I could walk again but it still hurt a lot so I took a few more weeks off and it got better and better but still sore to the touch. Living in Whistler and not being able to ski is very difficult indeed. So what do I do? Start skiing again, on lots of painkillers this time... I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to keep this up because all I could ski without severe pain were very smooth groomers. The slightest uneven snow and I was in major pain.
Thinking that of course it had to be ill-fitting boots that was causing all this pain, I went and dropped $1,000 on new boots, custom footbeds etc at what is considered one of the best bootfitters in Whistler. Got great fitting boots, and after "healing" up a bit, I started skiing again but had the same problem. Went back to the bootfitter about 10 times and had several modifications made. Since I was having shin pain and I have very thin lower legs, a lot of work was done to try and fill up the space around my lower leg. Also got booster straps which are supposed to fix these things...
So not having any luck with the new boots, I finally decided to go see a doctor in Whistler. Thinking I had microfractures that weren't healing, I had Xrays and an MRI which showed nothing. Doctor told me to just RICE and wait it out. So that's when I stopped skiing for the rest of the season (this was in February, and very frustrating.)
About 4 months later, the pain was gone but so was the snow. About this time I got a job a 45 min drive away and started commuting daily. It didn't take long for the pain to come back in my right shin. I'd get a sore feeling at the end of each drive and sometimes just sitting around, I'd get very painful shooting pains in my shin. Obviously I wasn’t fully healed, even this much later, so I went back to the doctor. This time they had me do another scan using radioactive imaging which did show an area on my shin where blood was “collecting”, indicating it was trying to heal something in that area. I was told I had a bad case of shin splints and likely tears in the periosteum that still hadn’t healed.
Doctor recommended I go to physiotherapy, so I did. I was referred to a very good physiotherapist in Whistler that deal with these issues all the time and used to be a physiotherapist for the Canadian Olympic Ski team so I assume she knows what she’s doing. I was told that all I need to do is to strengthen my lower legs and stretch my hamstrings and this should take care of the problem. She showed me several exercises to work the muscles on the front of my shin (mainly the tibialis anterior.) I have been doing these exercises for about 8 months now and while I haven’t always kept up with them as well as I should, I haven’t been slacking off that bad.
It’s now a year later, I’ve moved down to Vancouver (2hrs from Whistler) and I don’t have pain after driving anymore or any shooting pains, even though my commute is now an hour long. However, the area on my right shin is still sometimes a bit sore to the touch when compared to my left shin. The worst part is, I can’t ski still… I’ve only tried about three times this season and if I even get the slightest backseat, I have shin pain for a week after that. While it’s not nearly as bad as it was, it’s enough to put me off from skiing for at least a week or so. This means I only usually manage one or two runs before I can’t do any more. I don’t think I ski much in the backseat but in normal skiing, you can’t really help from getting knocked back there once in a while due to a bump, uneven snow etc, so I don’t think this is something I can learn not to do.
After this many months, I don’t understand how it hasn’t healed yet. While I understand that the strengthening exercises physio told me to do are necessary if I want to avoid this issue again, I would’ve thought that even if I didn’t do any of the strengthening exercises, it would’ve healed anyway, given this much time. So what is going on? I’d like to point the finger at the fact that I’m driving an hour every day, using my shin muscles to press the gas pedal, and that it is preventing this injury from properly healing. However, I did ask physio about this back when I first went to see her and she didn’t think it would be a problem at all if I did the strengthening exercises.
I’m not sure what to do now and feel very frustrated that I might be missing another season. I suppose it would make sense to revisit physio but it being two hours away and her not working weekends, it’s kind of difficult. I’m hesitant to see another physiotherapist here in the city as I’m not sure they’d have much experience with this kind of injury.
Sorry for the long post but thanks for reading. Any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.