Q: I’ve started running a lot to prepare for a marathon and a more experienced runner warned me about shin splints. How can I prevent them?
A: Shin splints are a common exercise-related problem often seen in runners, dancers, and military recruits. In the world of orthopaedics, we refer to this inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue (periosteum) around your tibia as medial tibial stress syndrome. Symptoms often occur after sudden changes in the frequency, duration, or type of physical activity. Here are three of the best ways to prevent shin splints:
1. Athletes should wear proper-fitting athletic shoes that are in good condition.
2. Athletes of all levels should slowly build their level of fitness.
3. Athletes should cross-train to minimize the repetitive impact or stress on the lower extremities.
If shin splints do occur, simple measures such as rest, ice, and stretching can help alleviate symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve after the methods described above, be sure to see an orthopaedist for an examination and further recommendations.
Chad Smalley, M.D.
Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics
2415 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37404