Shin splints are an extremely common ailment in runners. Other common names are soleus syndrome and tibial periostitis, but the proper medical terminology is medial tibial stress syndrome. As this name suggests, this condition involves overload (stress) of the medial (inner border) part of the tibia (shin bone).
This overuse condition is usually associated with abrupt changes in training routines. The bone experiences increased stresses and begins to remodel to adapt to this environment but often needs more time to adapt than the runner allows.
Runners with suspected shin splints should seek an evaluation by a sports medicine professional to rule out other diagnoses such as a stress fracture, posterior tibial tendon disease, and exercise-induced exertional compartment syndrome.
The diagnosis is typically made by physical examination, with tenderness along the inside area of the leg. Plain X-rays usually do not show any changes. Advanced imaging, such as bone scan and MRI can sometimes be performed and help confirm the diagnosis, but is usually not necessary.
The mainstay of treatment is rest (or a change in training, such as cross training) to allow the tibial bone to heal. Other treatments that may help include:
However, there is no clear evidence that any of these have significant benefit besides rest. To help avoid shin splints, runners should be vigilant in allowing adequate time to increase training demands, as well as run in a properly-fitted, well-cushioned running shoe. So, keep on running and don’t let your shins slow you down..
The holidays are meant to be a season where families gather and share special time in reflection on their lives and faith. However, the holidays have also become a source of increased stress for most, if not all Americans. Busy social schedules, the tasks of entertaining, shopping, and the traditions of mailing cards and decorating can leave us feeling worn out by January 2.
However, exercise can be a great antidote for stress during the holidays. Exercise burns off many of the stress hormones generated when we are anxious or feeling pressure. Excessive amounts of stress can lead to high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, weight gain, lack of sleep, and even memory loss. When we work out, we are literally burning off the hormones that cause these effects. With exercise, we feel more relaxed, restful, and even more productive.
As little as a ten minute walk can do wonders to calm the spirit. If you anticipate a particularly stressful day, it may be wise to exercise in the early morning before the action of the day begins. Weightlifting is especially beneficial and has been shown to have the equivalent calming effect as Valium. As an added bonus, holiday exercise will do much to prevent the ever present weight gain most experience after too many office parties, elaborate meals, and extra alcohol consumption.
Remember, just a few minutes of exercise can make a big difference in stress levels and weight gain during the holidays..
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