published Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Ask a doctor: How can I prevent shin splints while preparing for a marathon?

Dr. Chad Smalley

Q: I’ve started running a lot to prepare for a marathon. A more experienced runner warned me about shin splints. How can I prevent them?

A: Shin splints are a common exercise-related problem often seen in runners, dancers and military recruits. In the world of orthopaedics, we refer to this inflammation of the muscles, tendons and bone tissue (periosteum) around your tibia (shinbone) as medial tibial stress syndrome. Symptoms often occur after sudden changes in the frequency, duration or type of physical activity. The best ways to prevent shin splints include: Wearing proper fitting athletic shoes that are in good condition; slowly building to your level of fitness; and cross-training to minimize the repetitive impact or stress on the lower extremities. If shin splints do occur, rest, ice and stretching often will help alleviate symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve, see an orthopedist for an examination and further recommendations.

— Dr. Chad Smalley, Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics; member Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a health-related question for a medical doctor, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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