on most days, the gravel and dirt paths through the farmland all across Spain were great for hiking — easier on knees and feet than asphalt and better on ankles than the rocky paths through hillier or mountainous terrain. but with a little bit of rain … those usually wonderful, easy-walking paths turned slippery and mucky. most of the surface decided it would rather hitch a ride on the bottoms of our boots, on our pant legs, on anything that got within splatter distance, really.
this wouldn’t matter much for a kilometer or two here or there over the course of the Camino but the walk to Frómista was the second rainy day in a row and the paths proved much muddier than those to Castrojeriz. while we each experienced a variety of aches and pains, the shin splints that came with hauling around the extra mud-weight affected us both (though certainly not equally). for what seemed hours (but was probably only 3 or 4 kilometers) we clomped across the mesetas and plains, knocking mud off the soles of our boots ever couple hundred meters as shin splints got splintier and splintier.
and when you’re hiking 800 kilometers, shin splints are the gifts that kept on giving. removing irritants from inside shoes helped heal blisters; Compeed helped mitigate or prevent new ones; aloe, moisturizing lotion and liberal application of sunscreen helped heal and prevent sunburns; elevation and ice helped mend sprains … to an extent. but the best method for reducing or healing shin splints? stop the activity that caused the injury in the first place. not an option when one is challenging oneself to hike across Spain on a century-old pilgrimage trail. at least days of drier paths devoid of cakey mud don’t make things any worse, no matter how many kilometers each day has in store!