We are treating more athletes, witnessing more complex problems and are seeing athletes go from one injury to another, many of which are caused by overuse or starting out too fast.

And so far, the lead sport has been field hockey.

One of the most common injuries is shin splints, especially among beginner athletes. The term ‘shin splint’ is used to describe pain in the lower leg. The most common sports associated with shin splints are those that involve running, an increase in jumping, or a change to a hard playing surface such as football, soccer or aerobic dance. The condition, however, can occur in any sport and is most commonly found in the unconditioned, untrained athlete.

Two types of shin splints are named for the anatomical location of the pain. The anterior shin splint is found in the front portion of the shinbone, or tibia. The posterior shin splint pain is found on the inside section of the leg along the tibia. One of the major problems causing the injury is pronation of the foot, which is a medical term used to describe the inward rolling of the foot.

Even the most experienced sports physician may have trouble diagnosing a stress fracture. An x-ray of the shin does not show all stress fractures. If you do in fact have a stress fracture, you are in for a few months of rest with no athletic activities. Treatment of shin splints involves cause and effect, primarily pronation of the foot on the leg. If you are pronating excessively, orthotic devices may be helpful.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a sports podiatrist. He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and ‘88 Olympic marathon trials.

Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. He has a practice in Darien and is affiliated with Stamford Hospital and Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot& Ankle. His web site is www.stamfordhealthmedicalgroup.org