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Shin Splints & Stress Fractures 101 (INFOGRAPHIC)

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

If you’re not used to running on a regular basis, it doesn’t take much more than a couple miles in some old worn out running shoes to experience shin splints: that achy, tender sensation in the lower legs. Many people, however, confuse shin splints with stress fractures, though the two are quite different.

Shin splints are a type of injury that occurs in the soft tissues of the lower leg as a result of micro-tears. These may develop when tissue is overworked, and are especially common in athletes who have quickly and dramatically increased the intensity of their workout or training routine.

Stress fractures, on the other hand, are actual cracks or breaks in the lower leg bones. Stress fractures occur when muscles are fatigued past the point of being able to absorb shock when you run and jump. As a result, that shock is transferred from the muscle to the bone, which is not equipped to absorb it.

A new infographic from National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), which parents and athletes alike can benefit from reading through, shares strategies for preventing both shin splints and stress fractures,. Let’s go over some of the highlights below together…

Shin Splints & Stress Fractures: Fast Facts

  • Most stress fractures occur in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot.
  • More than 50 percent of all stress fractures occur in the lower leg.
  • Studies have shown tennis, track and field, gymnastics and basketball athletes are the most susceptible to stress fractures and shin splints.
  • Studies have also shown that female athletes typically experience more stress fractures than male athletes.

How to Prevent Shin Splints & Stress Fractures

  • Check with your athletic trainer to make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Ask a medical professional if you should supplement with vitamin D and/or calcium.
  • Work with your athletic trainer to modify your training schedule to reduce repetitive stress.
  • Work on flexibility and strength of the leg muscles.
  • Make sure there is a healthy balance between training and recovery.
  • Add cross training to accomplish fitness goals, such as deep water running, swimming or biking.

Learn more about stress fracture prevention.

Diagnosing Shin Splints & Stress Fractures

If you believe you may have a shin splint or stress fracture, visit your trainer or a local sports medicine professional, who can perform a through evaluation and recommend any additional tests that may be necessary in making a diagnosis, such as MRI or bone scan. Additionally, a sports medicine doctor can help you make decisions about how to modify your training regimen to care for your injury.

Schedule With a Sports Medicine Doctor Near You In Houston

To learn more about shin splints and stress fractures, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.