Healing Your Shins: 7 Effective Exercises for Shin Splints
Updated November 14, 2023.
Are shin splints slowing you down? You're not alone. Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a common issue among athletes, affecting an estimated 35% with pain in the lower leg. Shin splints are characterized by pain and tenderness along the shinbone, accompanied by swelling and redness. This discomfort is often due to overuse or incorrect training techniques.
Treatment options vary from rest and over-the-counter pain medication to icing, stretching, and strengthening exercises. While all these methods can be beneficial, our focus today is on exercises that can both heal and prevent shin splints.
7 Exercises for Shin Splints
1. Wall Calf Stretch
This exercise targets the muscles in the calf and shin.
- Stand facing a wall with your hands flat against it at shoulder height.
- Place the foot you plan to stretch behind the other and slowly lean forward, pressing your hips toward the wall and keeping your back leg straight.
- As you bend the forward knee while keeping the back leg straight, you should feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then release and repeat it up to four times.
2. Standing Calf Raises
Standing calf raises strengthen the lower leg muscles, aiding in shin splint treatment. Here's how to perform this exercise:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, abs drawn in, and place your hands on a wall or chair for support.
- Slowly lift your heels and rise onto the balls of your feet.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower your heels back.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each.
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3. Kneeling Toe Stretch
This exercise stretches the muscles in the front of the shin and the top of the foot, reducing shin splint discomfort. Here's how to do it:
- Kneel on a mat, blanket, or soft surface with your toes pointing behind you.
- With your feet together, sit back on your heels. Ensure your back remains straight, and keep your hands on your thighs.
- You should feel a stretch in the front of your shins and the top of your feet.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then release by bringing your weight forward and releasing the pressure on your toes.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets.
4. Shin Stretch
Also known as the seiza stretch, this exercise stretches the muscles at the back of the shin and the ankle. Here's how to do it:
- Start by kneeling on a mat with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your back straight and your buttocks over your heels.
- You should feel a stretch at the back of your shin.
- Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds and then release.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets of 10 reps each.
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5. Deep Lunge Ankle Stretch
This exercise stretches the ankle and calf muscles, relieving tension in the shin. Here's how to perform this exercise:
- Begin in a push-up position with your arms straight and your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift one leg off the ground, bring your foot forward, and place it under your stomach.
- Slowly lower your body weight on your front foot, pressing your ankle into the ground. You should feel a stretch.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then release. Repeat for five reps per leg.
6. Resisted Dorsiflexion
The resisted dorsiflexion exercise strengthens the muscles at the front of the shin, helping to prevent the recurrence of shin splints. Here's how to do it:
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
- Loop a resistance band over the top of one foot and anchor the other end to a sturdy object, such as a chair leg.
- With your knee and leg straight, flex your foot towards your shin to pull on the band.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before releasing it. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
7. Single-Leg Balance
The single-leg balance exercise improves balance and stability, promoting recovery from shin splints. Here's how to do it:
- Stand on one foot with your knee slightly bent.
- Try to maintain your balance for 30-60 seconds.
- To increase the difficulty of the exercise, close your eyes or stand on a soft surface like a foam pad.
- Repeat up to 5 times.
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Take Control of Your Shin Health
Shin splints can be painful and frustrating, but you have the power to manage and even prevent them. By incorporating these seven exercises into your routine, you can improve your overall foot health.
In addition to these exercises, consider exploring Upstep's selection of insoles. These custom orthotics provide support and cushioning for your feet, reducing pain and preventing future injury. They can be a great addition to your shin splint management plan, allowing you to enjoy the activities you love without discomfort. So why wait? Take control of your shin health today and get back to an active lifestyle.