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Oklahoma Sports and Fitness January/February 2013 : Page 28

“Shin Splints” are one of the most common running-related injuries, occurring up to six times more often than Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or IT band syndrome (1). Even though this injury is more frequent and often attacks both legs, it nevertheless receives far less hype than these other running-related injuries. This is likely due to the fact that “shin splints” is not an actual medical diagnosis, but rather an umbrella term that could mean a variety of leg injuries. For our purposes, “shin splints” will refer to four running-related injuries that create pain near the site of the shinbones. These different conditions can be difficult to identify even for a trained physician, which is why a sports doctor who specializes in running-related injuries makes for an invaluable member of your support team. Understanding the cause of your shin splints is the key to speedy recovery and future injury prevention. One of the reasons shin pain is often unsuccessfully treated is because most physicians never see or address running mechanics. Four-Point Video Gait Analysis performed on actual running surfaces can reveal the functional cause of these specific conditions. Each type of shin injury is unique. The location, severity, frequency of pain, and aggravating factors may be different from one runner to another; therefore, each case should be treated with a specific plan of attack. The most common prescription given for shin splints is rest. Unfortunately, for many runners who are close to race day, this may not be a viable option. It is noteworthy that a five-day break from running will not significantly impact the cardiovascular endurance you have trained to attain (2). In shin pain cases where a runner’s adaptive capabilities, nutritional foundation, or plain reason have been overpowered, a stress fracture or exertional (acute) compartment syndrome is a likely result. Stress fractures occurring in the shins account for half of all stress fractures in athletes (3). X-ray, bone scan, or MRI can identify a stress fracture. An exertional compartment syndrome is a rare condition that typically occurs in younger athletes, who may describe the symptoms in their legs as a feeling of “fullness” or heaviness that increases during a run (4). If the contents within a given compartment swell enough, the nerves and vessels of the leg may be compressed, leading to loss of 28 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2013 | OKSPORTSANDFITNESS.COM

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