What athletes should know about shin splints

Exercising more is a primary goal for many people, especially those interested in losing weight. Athletes also look to increase the time they spend exercising as new seasons draw near. While additional exercise can benefit many people, those who frequently perform weight-bearing exercises or repetitive motions, such as running, dancing and jumping, may find themselves battling shin splints.

Also known as tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are a condition marked by pain in the shinbone, also known as the tibia. Shin splints are common among athletes and dancers who spend so much of their time on their feet. The Mayo Clinic says shin splints are caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and connective tissues that attach muscles to the bone. Shin splints typically appear when there is a sudden increase in distance or intensity of a workout schedule.

Shin splints are characterized by tenderness, swelling, soreness, and/or pain along the inner part of the lower leg. While the pain may stop when the body stops exercising, eventually that pain can transform into continuous pain. Many cases of shin splints can be alleviated through rest, icing and other self-care methods. Wearing proper footwear and modifying exercise routines can help ensure that shin splints are not a recurring problem.

Should shin splints not clear up on their own, or if over-the-counter pain relievers prove ineffective at managing pain, then athletes should contact their physicians. Doctors will likely try to determine if the pain is caused by something other than shin splints.  

Combat-style exercise programs on the rise

Exercise is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can help men and women maintain a healthy weight, delay the onset of certain diseases and improve overall health. 
To ensure they get enough exercise, many people join a gym. But as popular as gyms are, many individuals have a narrow view of what constitutes a thorough “gym” workout. They may believe they’ll spend their entire time like a hamster in a wheel on the treadmill or may be intimidated by the rows of machines before them. Fortunately, today’s gyms are much more than weight benches and elliptical machines. Many boast an array of fitness classes, and a great many more offer martial arts and combat-style classes. Such offerings attract fitness enthusiasts who may be looking for a workout with an edge. What’s more, these types of routines can help increase stamina and strength all while reducing stress.
Kickboxing classes, bootcamp, high-intensity interval training, and mixed martial arts are just a few of the programs on the rise in today’s gyms. The following is a brief look at some of the popular class offerings at gyms around the country.

Mixed martial arts (MMA)
MMA is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. MMA combines various styles of fighting in a no-holds-barred style of combat. Punching, kicking and classic martial arts moves are part of MMA. Wrestling may be thrown in for added fun as well. Fitness classes geared around MMA will incorporate many of the moves without the actual combat taking place. Therefore, expect to push muscles and flexibility to their peak.

Kickboxing classes will pit you against a punching bag. You will learn proper punching stances and will work to improve balance and movement. People may believe only the legs and arms get a workout during kickboxing, but your core muscles do their part to help you keep your footing and put power behind your kicks and punches. Some kickboxing trainers will mix intervals into the training, providing additional core work and cardiovascular

Krav Maga
Krav Maga class may entice self-defense tactic enthusiasts. Krav Maga employs techniques from martial arts disciplines but includes some self-defense moves as well. Classes will not only teach participants how to defend themselves from attacks, but will also work on agility and strength.

For anyone who has ever wanted to channel their inner Rocky Balboa, boxing classes may be just the fit. Boxing will work many of the same muscle groups as kickboxing, but without the roundhouse kicks. Boxing can be a super stress-buster, and many people underestimate just how much they’ll work up a sweat while in the ring or going one-on-one with a bag.