©iStockphoto.com/barsikKD: What are shin splints and how can runners avoid them? DS: "Shin splints are one of those nagging injuries that can quickly stop a runner in their tracks. This painful condition is caused by inflammation in the muscle, the tibialis, that runs down the front of the shin. This is a chronic condition, meaning it is created over time, and is almost always a result of 'too much, too soon' running. The muscles surrounding the shin need time to develop strength to handle longer runs, especially those on hard or uneven surfaces that create more impact. New runners should be very careful to build up running distances slowly to allow their muscles to adjust to the increased demands. Runners can also warm up the tibialis before a run by standing on one leg and pulling the opposite toe up towards the shin. Pulling the toe towards the shin causes the shin muscle to flex. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds and then point the toe away from the shin to relax the tibialis and flex the calf muscle. Repeat this process a few times on each leg for a nice pre-run warm-up. The most important thing to remember regarding shin splints is to NOT run through the pain. Many runners ignore the discomfort and eventually lose months of running when the pain becomes unbearable. When battling shin splints it is a good idea to hold off on running until the pain is completely gone." Dave Smith is a certified personal trainer who was recently named Canadian Fitness Professional of the Year. He specializes in bodyweight exercises and interval training that can be done anywhere. Check out his work at makeyourbodywork.com.