High school runner with pain in the shins

Patient

Q: Hello, I am an avid runner training for the upcoming Track season at my local high school. Ever since the second practice I have been experiencing a pain on the side of my shins about 4 inches above my ankle. I only experience it at the beginning of my training and when I start to run hard. I would like to know if this is natural as my muscles strengthen or if something else is wrong with my leg? Thanks

Doctor

A:   The pain that you described may correspond to a Medial Stress Tibial Syndrome, as known as “shin splints”. Result from too much force too quickly being placed on your shinbone and connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Shin splints are common in runners and in those who participate in activities with sudden stops and starts, such as basketball, soccer or tennis. Most cases of shin splints can be treated with rest, ice and other self-care measures. Wearing proper footwear and modifying your exercise routine can help prevent shin splints from recurring. Avoid activities that cause pain or discomfort but don't give up all physical activity. While you're healing, try low-impact exercises, such as swimming, bicycling or water running. Apply ice packs to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days. To protect your skin, wrap the ice packs in a thin towel. You may also consider wearing arch supports that can help cushion and disperse stress on your shinbones. And the most important at the beginning of your training make the demands increase progressively.

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