Fitness Q and A: Healing Shinsplints

Q. I developed shinsplints after just five days of running. Two weeks later, I'm still in pain. I thought I'd done everything right: I began running after two months of walking. How can I heal fast and avoid getting shinsplints again?

A. First, have your injury diagnosed by a doctor. "'Shinsplints' is a catchall term that can describe two different problems," says orthopedic surgeon James Maher, M.D. The tendons in your leg may be inflamed, or you may have a stress fracture of your shinbone. Such fractures can take up to eight weeks to heal, but tendinitis may heal more quickly.

Walking before taking up jogging doesn't make you immune to injury. "Many people get stress fractures just from walking," Maher says. Be sure to wear the right shoes (cross-trainers won't suffice for running or walking; you may even want to see a podiatrist). Don't increase mileage by more than 10 percent a week. Rest days are crucial. Run every other day rather than daily.

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