What's Going Around: Dealing with exercise-related injuries - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

What's Going Around: Dealing with exercise-related injuries

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BARABOO (WKOW) -- Healthcare providers are seeing injuries like shin splints, stress fractures and ankle sprains. 

Dr. Mike Breunig with SSM Health - Dean Medical Group says it's sometimes hard to differentiate between shin splints and stress fractures, but shin splints are typically felt in the entire lower leg, while a stress fracture is often in a specific area. "And it can be a continuum and start off as shin splints and then turn into a stress fracture," Dr. Breunig says.

Shin splints are primarily caused by running but not warming up properly or using poor fitting shoes. Weak ankles, hips or core muscles can also play a role. Dr. Breunig says to rest, then ice the area for 20-30 minutes every few hours for two to three days. Try over-the-counter pain relievers. He says it can take awhile for shin splints to go away, so don't start exercising too soon. "Instead gradually increase your time, speed and intensity. If your shin splints do not get better, talk with your doctor," Dr. Breunig says.

Stress fractures are tiny breaks in your bones from repetitive stress, like running or jumping. Dr. Breunig says they typically happen when you increase the speed, distance or intensity of your activity too quickly. Stress fractures can also happen to runners who transition to harder surfaces.

The treatment is the same as shin splints, but the recovery time may be a lot longer. Dr. Breunig says it may take six to eight weeks to fully heal. "Once it heals, you can start to slowly return to exercise and activity. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist to determine the speed and intensity at which you can return to normal activities. Resuming running and other sports too quickly will increase your risk of a repeated stress fracture," says Dr. Breunig.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you don't seem to be healing.

Dr. Breunig also wants to remind people to wear highly reflective clothing and lights when running and biking. He's seeing an increase in serious injuries related to crashes with vehicles in high traffic areas and during low visibility times. 

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