Effective Stretches for Shin Splints

Effective Stretches for Shin Splints


Shin splints, or ‘medial tibial stress syndrome,’ involve pain on the inner side of the shinbone (tibia), often experienced during physical activities. They are a frequent issue for runners, dancers, and athletes, but incorporating stretches for shin splints can help alleviate discomfort.

For personalized care and effective treatment plans for shin splints, consider scheduling an appointment with Auto-ness Physical Therapy.

Understanding Shin Splints

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of injuries runners sustain are due to shin splints. To effectively address shin splints, it’s essential to understand their root causes, such as muscle imbalance, overpronation, and inadequate stretching. Proper footwear, correct training habits, and suitable surface types significantly prevent and treat this condition.

Causes and Risk Factors of Shin Splints

According to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, shin splints are responsible for approximately 16 percent of running-related injuries.

Shin splints can result from various causes and risk factors, including:

Overuse or Sudden Increase in Activity: One of the primary culprits behind shin splints is overuse or a sudden increase in physical activity. Pushing your body too hard without adequate preparation can strain the muscles and tissues in your lower legs.

Flat Feet or Overpronation: People with flat feet or those who experience overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot) face a higher risk of developing shin splints because of the altered biomechanics in the lower leg.

Inadequate Footwear: Wearing inappropriate or worn-out footwear while engaging in physical activities can contribute to shin splints. Proper cushioning and arch support are essential.

Running on Hard Surfaces: Jogging on rigid, unforgiving surfaces such as concrete can subject your shins to extra strain, heightening the likelihood of shin splints.

Muscle Imbalance: An imbalance in the muscles surrounding the shinbone can lead to shin splints. Strengthening these muscles through targeted exercises can help prevent this condition.

High-impact Sports: Sports that involve repetitive jumping, sprinting, or sudden stops can strain the shin muscles, leading to shin splints.

Poor Flexibility and Muscle Strength: Inflexible muscles and inadequate muscle strength can contribute to shin splints. Regular stretching and strength training can mitigate this risk.

Previous Injuries: A history of shin injuries or prior cases of shin splints can increase the likelihood of recurrence.

Body Weight: Excess body weight places more stress on the lower leg, making it more susceptible to shin splints.

Common Symptoms of Shin Splints

Effective Stretches for Shin Splints

Females, constituting 55.3% of the population, were more likely to experience shin splints compared to males, who made up 44.7%. Identifying the symptoms of shin splints is vital for prompt intervention. Typical indicators include:

Pain in the Shin Area: Discomfort in the lower leg, often linked to physical activity, is a common indicator of shin splint pain and can be a form of leg pain.

Tenderness or Soreness along the Inner Side of the Shinbone: A sensitive or painful sensation along the inner edge of the shinbone, often related to the condition of the calf muscles.

Mild Swelling in the Lower Leg: Slight inflammation or puffiness in the lower leg area, typically around the shin, may involve the leg muscles and connective tissues.

Pain that Develops During Exercise: Discomfort in the shin area that starts or intensifies during physical workouts is a typical manifestation of shin pain.

Pain that Worsens with Continued Activity: A progressive increase in shin discomfort with ongoing physical exertion, especially during high-impact activities.

Numbness and Weakness in the Feet: A loss of sensation or strength in the feet, often involving the foot muscles and their shock absorption capabilities, can be related to shin issues.

The Importance of Pre-Exercise Warm-up

It is crucial to engage in a warm-up before engaging in any physical activity, as emphasized in a thorough review. Warming up readies your body for the demands of exercise and notably lowers the risk of shin splints and other potential injuries.

Here are some benefits of incorporating warm-up exercises into your routine:

Increases Blood Flow to Muscles

Warm-up exercises, including low-impact exercises, beginning from the starting position, enhance blood circulation to your muscles, ensuring they receive adequate oxygen and nutrients. This can provide particular advantages for people dealing with leg injuries.


Enhances Muscle Flexibility

Pre-workout, warmed-up muscles, including a shin stretch that targets the soleus muscles and an Achilles stretch, are more flexible, reducing the chances of strain and injury during your training session.

Improves Range of Motion in Joints

Engaging in warm-up routines that incorporate shin splint exercises and stretches for tight calves can enhance joint mobility, enabling a complete range of motion during physical activities, including low-impact exercises.

Prepares Your Cardiovascular System

Considering your medical history, your heart rate gradually increases during warm-up, preparing your cardiovascular system for the upcoming stretching routine, including gentle stretches.

Mental Preparation

Warm-ups also mentally prepare you, with guidance from a medical professional and insights from a review article, to reduce the risk of sports injury during the exercise ahead, improving focus and concentration.

Reduces Muscle Stiffness

Stiff muscles are more prone to common sports injuries, including shin splints. Warm-up exercises, such as the seated calf stretch and ankle stretch, alleviate stiffness, making your muscles more pliable.

Activates the Nervous System

Warming up stimulates your nervous system, improving the coordination of muscle movements, especially when incorporating an evidence-based review of stretching exercises throughout the entire time.

Dynamic Stretches for Shin Splints Prevention

Dynamic stretches encompass the motion of your muscles and joints throughout their complete range. These stretches, recommended by a healthcare provider, are excellent for shin splint prevention and can be performed as part of your warm-up routine.

Here are a few of the best stretches for shin splints to consider:

Ankle Circles: Rotate your ankle in circles to improve flexibility.

High Knees: Lift knees high while jogging in place for a dynamic warm-up.

Butt Kicks: Kick heels up towards the buttocks while jogging in place.

Leg Swings: Swing legs forward and backward to enhance hip mobility.

Targeted Stretches for Shin Splints Prevention

In addition to dynamic stretches, incorporating targeted static stretches for shin splints treatment can be highly effective, especially for those at risk for shin splints due to repetitive activity. Perform these good stretches for shin splints after your dynamic warm-up:

Calf Stretches: Stretch the calf muscles to relieve tension.

Tibialis Anterior Stretch: Stretch the front shin muscle for flexibility.

Peroneal Muscle Stretch: Stretch the outer leg muscles to reduce tightness.

Plantar Fascia Stretch: Stretch the arch of the foot to alleviate discomfort.

Achilles Tendon Stretch: Stretch the Achilles tendon for improved flexibility.

Proper Technique and Safety Tips

Effective Stretches for Shin Splints

Maintaining the correct form and following safety guidelines to avoid exacerbating the pain of shin splints when performing stretches is crucial. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Ensure correct form for each shin split exercise, even when using a resistance band, to target the intended muscles.
  • Avoid overstretching, as it’s essential for the prevention of shin splints and injury, especially during dynamic stretching.
  • Progress gradually, reducing the risk of injuries by increasing the intensity of your stretches over time.
  • Listen to your body; if you experience pain, consult a healthcare professional and stop the stretch immediately.

Incorporating Stretches into Your Routine

To effectively prevent shin splints, incorporate these stretches into your regular exercise routine. Prioritize dynamic stretches as part of your warm-up routine, and reserve static stretches for after your workout. Consistency is critical to reaping the benefits.

Additional Tips for Shin Splints Prevention

In addition to stretching, consider the following tips to prevent shin splints:

Proper Footwear: Invest in quality athletic shoes that provide proper support and cushioning.

Gradual Progression: Gradually raise the intensity and length of your workouts to enable your body to acclimate

Cross-Training: Incorporate various physical activities to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

Rest and Recovery: Give your body adequate time to rest and recuperate between workout sessions.

Professional Guidance: If you’re prone to shin splints, consult a physical therapist or trainer for personalized guidance.

Unlock Pain-Free Running with Auto-Ness Physical Therapy

If you’re struggling with recurring shin splints or seeking expert guidance on injury prevention, consider reaching out to Dr. Matthew Perry at Auto-Ness Physical Therapy for physical therapy in San Diego. Our team, led by Dr. Perry, offers specialized care and personalized exercise programs to help you achieve pain-free running and overall better physical health.


By integrating beneficial stretches and warm-up routines into your fitness routine, you can notably decrease the likelihood of experiencing shin splints. This article has covered the causes, symptoms, and preventive measures, enabling you to engage in physical activities without the inconvenience of shin splint discomfort.”


Q1: Can I walk with shin splints?

Yes, you can walk with shin splints, but listening to your body and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain is essential. Rest and proper stretching are crucial for recovery.

Q2: Why do I get shin splints so easily?

Several factors, such as overuse, poor footwear, and muscle imbalances, can

Q3: Do strong calves prevent shin splints?

Strong calves can help prevent shin splints by reducing stress on the shinbone and surrounding tissues. Regular calf-strengthening exercises are recommended for this purpose.

Auto-Ness PT_Matthew Perry

Dr. Matthew Perry

Auto-Ness Physical Therapy

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