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.