Kids Health Matters: Young runner injuries

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Young runners are on the rise, and many are faced with a very common injury. (WPVI)

Young runners are on the rise, and many are faced with a very common injury.

Soccer was the first sport for 14-year-old Sneha Roy, but then she discovered running.

She says, "It's calming in a way. I can release all my stress."

Sprints and relays are her favorite.

Two weeks into this spring's training, the enjoyment turned to pain.

"I was doing 100-meter sprints, and around 50 meters in, I just kind of felt something snap, or pull. It was like intense pain for about a minute," said Sneha.

The pain died down, but came back if she tried to run.

Dr. Brian Vernau says those are classic signs of shin splints.

He said, "One of the muscles is pulling on the inside lining of the bone. A sharp pain, most often to either the front of the shin, or the inside part of the shin."

Dr. Vernau says any runner can get shin splints, though it's more common early in the season.

"We see it with a change in training - so if they increase their mileage per week, or if they change their terrain. Sometimes i find that they haven't changed their shoes in a long time," said Dr. Vernau.

Rest is the key for healing.

When Sneha still had pain, even walking around school, Dr. Vernau was concerned about a stress fracture.

Tests were negative, so she continued on with rest and physical therapy.

Dr. Vernau said, "She's working on some lower leg strengthening."

And lots of careful stretching, especially the Achilles tendon.

Sneha admits spending 7 weeks on the sidelines has been tough.

"I missed an entire season, and it feels awful," said Sneha.

But, Dr. Vernau says with rest this summer, she should be Okay for soccer in fall.

To prevent injuries, wear the right gear, warm up properly, pay attention to the heat or cold - and stop if you feel any pain.
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