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Long struggle with shin pain

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I need help determining wether it's my boots or my skinny legs that is causing me problems. I'm close to giving up on skiing without pain.
Always had really bad lower shin pain (I attached a picture with the area I get pain in on both legs.) Thought it was my horribly fitting boots and got new ones fitted in Whistler at Fanatyk Co which many people seem to think is the best place to go. Since I have a high instep and skinny ankle/heel/lower legs, the only boot they had that would fit me at the time was the Lange RS130.

Still had pain with new boots even though they were a much much better fit than my old boots. Went back about 8 times to get work done on them to try and fix the shin pain. At this point they look like franken boots. I've also got tongue eliminators to fill up the space around my skinny ankle. Also got booster straps since they're supposed to be magic for shin pain/shin bang.
None of this has helped. The boots fit pretty snug (only with tongue eliminators though) and to me seems like a pretty good fit but I still have to crank the buckles down to the second last notch.
Gone to several doctors and physio for my shins (which got so bad I couldn't even walk at one point) and they seem to think I just need to stretch and strengthen my lower legs, calves etc. I have been doing this (maybe not as well as I should have though...) but it doesn't seem to have helped.
I brought up foam injected liners to the bootfitter to make sure to fill up the space around my ankles and they said I might be good candidate for foam injected liners cause of my small ankles/lower legs. I really can't afford to shell out $500 for foam liners if I can't be sure it's going to help though.
Not sure what to do next. I feel bad to keep going back to the bootfitter because they seem to be out of ideas and have been very patient with me already. Especially since I'm not even sure the boot is the cause.
I don't think it's my skiing as I'm fairly certain I'm not in the back seat which is know is a big cause for shin pain. I ski pretty aggressively though, perhaps beyond my chicken legs limits sometimes.
Basically I'm looking for suggestions on whether to focus on my boots or my legs. Not being able to ski much in the past 3 years because of this issue, I'm getting a bit desperate. I know it's nearly impossible to tell over the Internet though.


Thanks in advance!




Edited by Jave - 12/17/12 at 2:06pm
post #2 of 12



     Generally the shin carries all deceleration loads in everyone's boots---that you have a problem indicates an uneven loading of the shin in the area you indicated, I know you have mentioned the prior attempts to alleviate the problem.  Excuse me for asking, but, how is the shell fit?  Read the Wiki "Which boot will work for me" at the top of the boot fitters section to find out how to do this.  Do you have a video of you skiing?



post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the reply. The shell fit is good according to the specs in that wiki article. I also have custom foot beds made.


I don’t have a video of me skiing but I will try to get one taken this weekend. What type of skiing would you want to see though, just carving turns down a groomer or in cut up snow/crud/bumps kind of skiing? Any kind of uneven snow definitely makes the pain worse.


I know you’d have to guess but do you think this is a problem that can be fixed by boot work/different boot or can I have the perfect fitting boot and still have this problem simply because my legs aren’t up to it?

post #4 of 12

It is hard to say whether you will achieve success, but we have helped several folks who had broken tibia's (large lumps---painful) to ski relatively pain free

we try to offload the affected area and spread the load around.


would you describe the pain as being deep(internal) or surface (skin related)


have someone video you skiing by from a distance----have them move the camera to follow you through several turns as 

you go past.


have you had your fore/aft stance position evaluated by someone either in the shop or out on the hill?

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

The pain is internal but not deep. Right where I circled in the picture, I don't have any kind of fat layer, just skin on top of bone. It seems other people have a layer of fat there (not that I've inspected many people's shins though) and maybe that's part of my problem.


I've been told it's the layer around the bone (the periosteum, which I understand is how muscle attached to the bone) that is damaged and that's what's causing the pain. The reason it's damaged is the unknown I guess. From what I understand it can either be from pressure/rubbing/impact or it can be because of the attached muscles pulling too hard on this layer causing tears.


I will try to get a video this weekend.


I’m not entirely sure what you mean by fore/aft stance position but as part of the work with the boot fitter we have tried a couple different heel lifts to try and alleviate it, none of which have helped. I currently do not have a heel lift in there.

post #6 of 12

periosteum, medical definition: a thick, fibrous vascular membrane covering the bones, except at their extremities. It consists of an outer layer of collagenous tissue containing a few fat cells and an inner layer of fine elastic fibers. Periosteum is permeated with the nerves and blood vessels that innervate and nourish underlying bone. The membrane is thick and markedly vascular over young bones but thinner and less vascular in later life. 

Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.


the area you indicated is generally where the retinaculum (a broad band of tissue) ties from one ankle bone to the other.  The anterior compartment (front) muscles located just below the knee turn into tendons which pass downward/inside and under this tissue as they enter the foot.  These muscles/tendons are your Dorsiflexors (pull your fore foot upward, or, in skiing, pull your knee forward) this tissue (the retinaculum) can be strained, become inflamed and hurt like all heck, (just a guess) which "may or may not" have anything to do with your problem.  If this is what is going on, it sounds like it may be an over use problem, which could be related to a Center of Mass imbalance, where you are continually pulling your knees forward, for some reason.


lets see the video.



Edited by miketsc - 12/19/12 at 11:42am
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Here's a few short clips put together from today. Hopefully you can see what's going on but I know the quality isn't that great. I'm the skier in the black jacket, tan pants, white helmet.
Also stopped by the bootfitter. He's stumped... He made some changes to the canting of the boot although I've had that done several times before...
post #8 of 12

your issue is fore/aft balance related. you are using the muscles of your lower leg excessively to stay balanced over your skis. solving the fore/aft formula of bootboard ramp angle, shell forward lean and flex, and binding delta, will allow you to relax your muscles and rely on your properly stacked skeleton. there may be an element of sole canting involved as well, but more than likely not the cuff alignment. the pain in your shin is related to the location and static nature of your hips.


your boot guy needs to properly assess the range of motion in your ankle joint as well as assess the footbed and bootboard to make sure that it is not overbuilt.


if you are taking lesssons, it would help to have your instructor work with you on drills related to re-centering your feet in between turns, and bringing the body(hips) down the hill 


the boot is not a cast that forces you into a good skiing position. the boot has to be set up to allow you to stand comfortably in it so you can maintain comfortable balance to control your skis in all conditions and all terrain. think of it more as an early warning system for your body's gyroscope telling you when you are getting out of a good skiing position.


big project, good luck getting good help,



post #9 of 12

I second what starthaus has said, If you fitter is stumped, it might be time to seek further help.  Fore/aft balance is a chronic problem that is seldom assessed and adjusted to

bring the skiers COM over the center of the boot/ski.


measure your calf muscle circumference where it exits the boot liner and get back to us. 



post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Went back to the bootfitter today and got a different guy. Mentioned fore/aft balance and he wanted to put a heel lift in there. I said I want to try a pretty agressive one to see if this is the right direction to go so he put a 1cm heel lift in there. I previously had a 5mm lift which I took out because I didnt feel it helped.

Well wow, my skiing got way better. I was blasting through crud all day and it felt fairly effortless wheres I previously felt I had to fight to stay in control. While skiing my shins didnt hurt which they usually do. However now a few hours after it hurts quite a bit. I did have a couple moments which put me in the backseat and I did get some instant shin pain in those instances so they may have been what is causing the pain right now.
I feel like I should be able to get thrown in the backseat occasionally and recover without getting hurt though...

Anyway I'll keep skiing them like this for a bit and see how it goes. At the very least it has improved my skiing significantly.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well after two more days of skiing with the heel lifts the problem hasn't been fixed. If anything, it's gotten worse but it's hard to tell since it could just be because my shins were a bit sore to begin with. Went back to boot fitter and was given some loaner 3 piece boots, Dalbello Kryptons with intuition power wrap liners just to see if there was any difference. I still kept the heel lift though since I feel it's made my skiing that much better.


Did a few groomer laps with no issue. I actually really like these boots. However, decided to go into some really skied out non groomed areas as that's where I usually get pain from. Skied the run under the chair which often becomes a bobsled track filled with giant moguls. After this run I had a lot of pain in my shins.


I feel I've definitely narrowed it down to when I ski this type of snow (crud, bumps, basically anything but virgin powder and smooth groomers) that I get the shin pain.


Do you think it's simply the way I ski? I'm thinking it's probably when I get knocked into the backseat for a split second and then me trying to get balanced again that I get the pain. How come this doesn't seem to happen to most people? I know people skiing this type of snow almost constantly in the backseat and never hear them complain about shin pain...

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well I finally figured this problem out, see here:



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