Shinsplints: A sore point with many athletes

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Lots of active people end up feeling some pain in the fronts of their legs, below the knee and above the ankle. The condition is commonly known as shinsplints and it happens for a variety of reasons, including: too much exercise, too little stretching, too little shoe support and running or walking on surfaces that are too hard.

No matter what the cause, here are some remedies you can try:

Use ice. After your workout, ice down the area for no more than 10 minutes. Ice (not heat) will help prevent swelling and relieve pain. Repeat four to five times a day.

Change your workout. It will take some time for the little tears in the tendon or connective tissue to heal, so while you're waiting, switch from running or other hard-impact sports to low-impact activities like swimming, biking, rowing, etc.

Increase strength and flexibility. The stronger and more flexible you are in your legs, the less likely you are to get injured. To build up your shin strength, try walking on your heels, toes up, taking long strides until you begin to feel a burn. Then rest. Build up your ability to do this longer and longer each time and you'll really lower your risk of shinsplints.

Check your shoes. Old, worn-out shoes that have lost their support and cushion can trigger shinsplints, so check yours by looking at them both top and bottom, back to front. A good (though expensive) rule of thumb is to replace your running or walking shoes every 400 to 500 miles or six to nine months.

Has President Bush forgotten fitness.gov? For free fitness advice for kids, seniors or anyone who wants a better understanding of what it means to get fit and eat healthy check out the official fitness site for the government: www.fitness.gov, home of the lackluster President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Where is Czar Arnold when we really need him? I surfed over to www.fitness.gov the other day and guess what? They still haven't replaced the welcome letter from President Clinton. Wake up, Mr. Bush. You're president now. Write a new letter. Pretend fitness is important because, really, it is.

"Our children deserve the right to achieve intellectually and grow up fit," the Clinton letter still says. "An important part of education is learning that physical fitness is the key to a happier, healthier and more productive life."

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