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It’s definitely December now (a balmy 24 degrees this morning), so I’ve parked my bicycle in the garage for the next four months and will begin my day with a walking commute up the street to the train station, across Hiawatha Avenue, through Minnehaha Park (stopping to admire how the falls freeze from the bottom up), across the Intercity Bridge and up the hill to the office. It’s a great way to begin and end the day — so long as my knees hold out.

Actually, it’s not my knees that concern me these days as much as my shins — or, to be more specific, medial tibial stress syndrome. It’s a shooting pain just below my left knee on the inside of my tibia. As the helpful people at athleticadvisor.com put it, this is basically an overuse condition traced to things like “improper footwear, muscle strength imbalance, muscle inflexibility or improper running surface.” I’m guessing that it’s my lack of flexibility, as usual, that’s causing the problem, because when I stretch out my left calf muscles, I can really feel it.

Apparently, what’s going on is some inflammation where the gastrocnemius, soleus and tibialis muscles connect to the tibia. It’s not really debilitating — I played basketball and tennis with it last week without any noticeable damage. But, every once in a while, it flares up enough to get my attention.

The solution, of course, is to stretch it out regularly and maybe work to strengthen those aforementioned posterior and anterior leg muscles with some specific exercises (any ideas?). Or I could back off a little on my weekly basketball game (I suck anyway) and let it heal — not a bad option for the short-term, probably.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to spend at least some time this week stretching it out.

It can’t hurt, right?

Thoughts to share?

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