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Original Post
m1nd7r1p · · Denver, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 0

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Rob Subry · · Steamboat Springs · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

I have had leg and foot cramping on longer approaches for years due to lower back injuries which has left me with some atrophy in my quad, calf, and foot.
In the past few years I've had 3 knee surgeries on that bad leg which hasn't helped matters any.
Recently I was having pretty severe numbness in my foot which ended up being caused by some tightness in the connective tissues at the tib/fib area which run down under the foot.
I have a very gifted PT who specializes in structural manipulation and after 3 fairly uncomfortable sessions has completely eliminated it.

After over 20 years of dealing with this issue I would offer this:
1) Look for a weakness and/or tightness in the leg, glute, soaz,or lower back.
You may be a very strong and fit individual, but can have these issues unknowingly.
2) Get a good pair of orthodics, made for your feet and walking position.
3) Get a shoe with a big toe box and leave that part of the shoe a bit loose, so as you hike and your feet swell there's room.

I've been having good luck with the Sportiva Boulder X

Good Luck!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 275

Have you gone back to the boots and had it go away again?

My wildass, no nothing couch diagnosis is that you are aggravating some nerve somewhere, with the footwear change. I do know that it can take a long time to "unaggravate" (that, from a doc), and, doing whatever pissed it off originally, again, will help keep it that way.

Or, something new is going on, coincidental to the footwear. Made worse by it, perhaps, but not caused by it.

So, experiment, or go to the doc, my two cents.

Best to ya, Helen

Edit to add, just saw post above, this could be all the way up in your back.

D-Storm · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 295

I think part of the reason is the climbing itself, and not just the approach shoes you're wearing. Standing on tip-toe all day in tight shoes is hard on the feet, then add in the hike to get in/out with a heavy-ish pack. The lighter footwear doesn't help, either. It might be worth wearing heavier boots for support until your feet and legs adapt?

I've had foot and leg cramps similar to what you describe, usually in peak season when I'm climbing a ton. Antagonistic exercises seem to help alleviate the tight muscles and tendons, such as standing on the edge of a stair or elevated surface on the ball of my foot with my heel far over the edge, and slowly as I can, lower my weight down on one foot until my heel is below the surface where I'm standing; then I use both feet to elevate myself back to tip-toe (to minimize the extra strain of the muscles you're trying to relax) and slowly drop my heel down on one foot again (3X30 for each foot). This exercise encourages the Achilles tendon et al to loosen up. There are other exercises, too. Could be worth seeing a PT if this keeps nagging you—I live in an expensive valley where a walk-in is $100, which isn't that much in the scheme of things if you are constantly hurting and wondering how to fix yourself. Just a few sessions can work wonders and give you the tools for better longevity. I was skeptical until a broken ankle forced me into rehab, and now I'm a believer.

Good luck!

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 275

Yeah, PT probably saved my mobility (arthritis).

Those guys spend all day, every day dealing with the mechanics of bodies in motion.

Get your feet happy, see the PT guys, do your exercises. You can probably figure out most of that without the PT, actually, but they would know what to target and the most efficient way to get at it.

And, might have to keep it up, too. Forever.

Welcome to the no longer young body, whatever your age!

I'm your oppoite. Super high arches. Can't help on that end!

Helen

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 275
Drew Sylvester wrote: Thanks for the advice. I've been climbing for 10+ years, including trad with heavy pack, and am used to long approaches: Red Rock, Indian Creek, Lumpy Ridge, etc. Usually my legs ache and cramp after the climbing and yes, I attribute cramps to that. However this last weekend the cramping was on the approach at the start of the day, and it's not the first time I've had issues on approach, so it's not the climbing on those days. The cramping can happen at the beginning of a trip, at the end, all the way through, or at times not at all. It also doesn't matter where we are in the season--early, peak, late--and doesn't appear dependent on how much climbing I've been doing lately. Length of the hike appears to be the most consistent predictor of cramps. And after switching to Gandas it's gotten worse, thus why I think the shoes at least play a part. If my legs haven't adapted by now, they're simply not going to. ;) So I was hoping for recs about approach shoes if people have found some that are more supportive and have helped with this issue. I may visit a PT as well. Thanks again!
I think you nailed it!

Good luck on the shoe search. Maybe edit your title a bit, approach shoes recs. for orthotics, something like that? These people respond better to single sentences.

Best, H.
amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20
Drew Sylvester wrote: So I was hoping for recs about approach shoes if people have found some that are more supportive and have helped with this issue.
Muscle cramps can be for variety of reasons - dehydration, high altitude, mineral - sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium - deficiency.

If you want to make shoes stiff yet light, get an insert.
CF shoe insert
Jeremy Kasmann · · Denver, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

Consider a shoe quiver.

1. Stiff supportive shoes (maybe your boots) for approaching single pitch or routes with long approach and rappel decent. Like castleton.
2. Lightweight hikers for approaches to multi pitch with a walk off. Something with good foot shape and support, lugged soles for traction, and light enough to carry up and over. RMNP, Lumpy, etc.
3. Ganda or other true approach shoe when actually climbing in approach shoes.

I find #3 is great for climbing but not great for approaches. I rarely climb in my approach shoes, so I use #2 for almost everything. I believe mine are Adidas Terrex Swift R and they have been much better all around than guide tennies, cruzers, etc. Not old enough for #1 (yet...).

Eliot Augusto · · Boulder, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 60

When I do 15 mile days in approach shoes with climbing at altitude thrown in the mix, I get foot cramps and calf cramps. Sometimes thigh cramps when I'm driving home, those are the worst!!

I have flat feet as well, and would often hike for 5 miles to days with loads ranging from 50 - 100lbs. I had no issues there with cramps. The trudging along was the challenge for me.

It wasn't until you wrote this that I even considered it to be related to approach shoes. I think the biggest factor would be in how you use your feet in the two different shoes. It is much easier to use the ball of your foot in a bent position to maintain stability while hiking up rocks which are often found on the approach to climbs and not what I think of when I think backpacking.

You're basically forcing your leg muscles to use the exact same function for hours, then you change it up by climbing. And then on the way down you use the antagonist muscles, followed by sitting in a car for probably hours. To me cramps just come with the territory.

I don't get these types of cramps doing a 15 mile round trip scramble. Have you tried that?

David Kutassy · · Charlottesville, VA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

You already went through PT but you might want pick up doing yoga at least every other day. You can get many other benefits than just helping prevent those cramps too.

I tend to cramp up while road cycling if I've been slacking on eating the right foods. If I don't get enough magnesium and/or potassium my calves cramp.

I haven't tried this but I've considered it many times - teamhotshot.com/

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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