Shin Splints Stretches and Exercises
Treatment and prevention tips for shin splints, plus effective shin splints muscle stretches and exercises.
by Brad Walker | First Published May 27, 2002 | Updated November 12, 2018
The term “Shin splints” is commonly used to describe lower leg pain. However, shin splints are only one of several conditions that affect the lower leg. The most common causes of lower leg pain are: general shin soreness; shin splints; and stress fractures. For the purpose of this article, I’ll only be addressing the first two. I’ll save the topic of stress fractures for another issue.
Before I move on to shin splints, I want to quickly cover the topic of general shin soreness. Shin soreness is simply an overuse problem. By including adequate rest in your training calendar, and using the R.I.C.E.R. regimen when pain does occur, you’ll be able to overcome 95 percent of all general shin soreness within about 72 hours. For lower leg pain that goes beyond general shin soreness, a more aggressive approach must be taken.
Shin Splints Anatomy
Although the term “shin splints” is often used to describe a variety of lower leg problems, it actually refers specifically to a condition called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). To better understand shin splints, or MTSS, an understanding of the muscles, tendons and bones involved is required.
As you can see from the diagram to the right, there are many muscles and tendons that make up the lower leg, or calf region. It’s a complex formation of inter-weaving and over-crossing muscles and tendons.
The main components of the lower leg that are affected by the pain associated with shin splints are:
- The Tibia and Fibula. These are the two bones in the lower leg. The tibia is situated on the medial, or inside of the lower leg. While the fibula is situated on the lateral, or outside of the lower leg.
- There are also a number of muscles that attach to the tibia and fibula. It’s these muscles, when overworked, that pull on the tibia and fibula and cause the pain associated with shin splints.
Specifically, the pain associated with shin splints is a result of fatigue and trauma to the muscles, tendons and fascia where they attach to the tibia and fibula. In an effort to keep the foot, ankle and lower leg stable, the muscles exert a great force on the tibia and fibula. This excessive force can result in the tendons and fascia being partially torn away from the bone.
What Causes Shin Splints?
While there are many causes of shin splints, they can all be categorized into two main groups. Overload (or training errors), and Biomechanical Inefficiencies.
Overload (or training errors): Shin splints are commonly associated with sports that require a lot of running or weight bearing activity. However, it is not necessarily the added weight or force applied to the muscles and tendons of the lower leg, but rather the impact force associated with running and weight bearing activities.
In other words, it’s not the running itself, but the sudden shock force of repeated landings and change of direction that causes the problem. When the muscles and tendons become fatigued and overloaded, they lose their ability to adequately absorb the damaging shock force.
Other overload causes include:
- Exercising on hard surfaces, like concrete;
- Exercising on uneven ground;
- Beginning an exercise program after a long lay-off period;
- Increasing exercise intensity or duration too quickly;
- Exercising in worn out or ill fitting shoes; and
- Excessive uphill or downhill running.
Biomechanical Inefficiencies: The major biomechanical inefficiency contributing to shin splints is that of flat feet. Flat feet lead to a second biomechanical inefficiency called over-pronation. Pronation occurs just after the heel strikes the ground; the foot flattens out and then continues to roll inward.
Over-pronation occurs when the foot and ankle continue to roll excessively inward. This excessive inward rolling causes the tibia to twist, which in-turn, over stretches the muscles, tendons and fascia of the lower leg.
Other biomechanical causes include:
- Poor running mechanics;
- Tight, stiff muscles in the lower leg;
- Running with excessive forward or backwards lean;
- Landing on the balls of your foot; and
- Running with your toes pointed outwards.
How to Prevent Shin Splints!
Prevention, rather than cure, should always be your first aim. I was very surprised when researching this topic at the number of articles that totally neglected any mention of preventative measures. They all talked of treatment and cure, but only one out of twenty took the time to address the issue of prevention in any detail.
Even before any sign of shin soreness appears there are a number of simple preventative measures that can be easily implemented.
Since about half of all lower leg problems are caused by biomechanics inefficiencies, it makes sense to get the right advice on footwear. Your feet are the one area you should not “skimp” on. The best advice I can give you concerning footwear is to go and see a qualified podiatrist for a complete foot-strike, or gait analysis. They will be able to tell you if there are any concerns regarding the way your foot-strike or gait is functioning.
After your foot-strike has been analysed, have your podiatrist, or competent sports footwear sales person recommend a number of shoes that suit your requirements. Good quality footwear will go a long way in helping to prevent many lower leg problems.
Apart from good footwear, what else can you do? I believe the following three preventative measures are not only very effective, but crucial.
Firstly, a thorough and correct warm up will help to prepare the muscles and tendons for any activity to come. Without a proper warm up the muscles and tendons will be tight and stiff, which may limit blood flow to the lower legs and result in a lack of oxygen and nutrients for those muscles. Before any activity be sure to thoroughly warm up all the muscles and tendons that will be used during your sport or activity. Click here for a detailed explanation of how, why and when to perform your warm up.
Secondly, strengthening and conditioning the muscles of the lower leg will also help to prevent shin splints. There are a number of specific strengthening exercises you can do for these muscles, including toe-up exercises; heel and toe walking; calf raises; and Thera-Band exercises.
And thirdly, flexible muscles are extremely important in the prevention of lower leg injuries. When muscles and tendons are flexible and supple, they are able to move and perform without being over stretched. If however, your muscles and tendons are tight and stiff, it is quite easy for those muscles and tendons to be pushed beyond their natural range of movement. To keep your muscles and tendons flexible and supple, it is important to undertake a structured stretching routine.
Shin Splints Stretches
Below are just two example of an effective calf stretch for shin splints treatment and prevention. But don’t rely on just two stretches; it’s important to do a range of stretches for the Achilles, the upper and lower calf, and the hamstrings.
Standing Heel-Back Achilles Stretch (1:19) Stand upright and take one big step backwards. Bend your back leg and push your heel towards the ground. Make sure the toes of your back leg are facing forward. Letting your toes point to one side will cause this stretch to put uneven tension on the calf muscles. Over an extended period of time, this could lead to a muscle imbalance. Regulate the intensity of this stretch by lowering your body. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.
Standing Calf Stretch (1:20) Stand with one knee bent and the other leg straight out in front. Point your toes towards your body and lean forward. Keep your back straight and rest your hands on your bent knee. Make sure your toes are pointing upward. Letting your toes point to one side will cause this stretch to put uneven tension on the calf muscles. Over an extended period of time, this could lead to a muscle imbalance. Hold the stretch position for a minimum of 20 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg.
Shin Splints Treatment
Firstly, be sure to remove the cause of the problem. Whether it be a biomechanical problem, or an overload problem, make sure steps are taken to remove the cause.
If shin splints are causing you a lot of pain, you can use ice to help reduce the pain. But please be aware that while ice will help to relieve some of the pain associated with shin splints, it will not fix them or cure them.
The next phase of treatment involves a number of physiotherapy techniques. The application of heat and massage are two of the most effective treatments for speeding up the healing process of the muscles and tendons in your lower legs and shins.
I have found both from personal experience and from working with many clients, that this form of treatment is the most effective. The application of heat and deep tissue massage on the affected area brings the best results. If you suffer from shin splints, be sure to spend at least a few minutes massaging the affected area both before and after you exercise.
Once most of the pain has been reduced, it is time to move onto the rehabilitation phase of your shin splints treatment. The main aims of this phase are to regain and improve the strength, power, endurance and flexibility of the muscles and tendons that have been compromised.
Fed up with slow, painful, ineffective rehab?
Watch the free presentation to see how you can fix your shins 50% faster and end your shin splints pain once and for all.
If you’re worried that your shin splints pain is going to…
Stop you from enjoying your favorite sports;
Rob you of the joy and satisfaction you get from running;
Restrict your ability to compete and race; or worse still…
Put an end to running for good.
…then keep reading (or watch the video above) to find out how to treat your shin splints properly and end your lower leg pain once and for all.
In fact, if you’re prepared to spend just a few minutes a day, in the comfort of your own home, applying the simple treatments and doing the exercises I outline in this 7 Step System; in the precise order that I prescribe them (and I’ll explain why that’s important in a minute). I guarantee to…
Reduce your pain from a “10” to a “2” on the pain scale in the next 24 to 48 hours;
Restore your strength and range of movement within 30 days;
Totally eliminate any chance of re-injury; and
Get you back to the sport you love; PAIN FREE.
And if my customized 7 step system doesn’t do all those things… I’ll call you on the phone and consult with you personally to find out why your shin splints aren’t getting better.
Feel like you’ve tried everything?
If you’re like many of my clients, you’ve probably been suffering with shin splints pain for a while now. And you’ve probably tried a number of different treatments to fix your shin splints, but let me guess…
You’ve tried all the “magic quick-fix” exercises on YouTube and Google, which promised to fix your shin splints by tomorrow morning – but didn’t.
Maybe you’ve seen your doctor, but they were about as useful as a chocolate teapot. (And don’t get me wrong: I’ve got the greatest respect for doctors; it’s just that injury rehab is not their specialty.)
You’ve tried physical therapy, you’ve seen your chiropractor, you’ve even tried massage, but they were only a temporary fix. (And I’ll explain why that is in just a minute.)
Maybe you’ve even tried cortisone or steroid injections, but that only worked for a month or two. Right?
You’ve probably tried… Ice, Heat creams and rubs, Anti-inflammatory medication, Straps and taping, Compression sleeves and special socks.
Maybe you’ve even tried that silly “one-size-fits-all” page of exercises that you get from a physical therapist or chiropractor. The same page of exercises they give to the next person who walks through the door. The same page of exercises they’ve been handing out for the last 5 years.
Please! These simple one-size-fits-all approaches nearly never work. And if they do it’s only a temporary fix. If you keep going down that track you’ll be in the same position 2 months, 6 months, even 12 months from now and your shin splints will be no better off than they are right now.
Heal First! …then Stretch and Strengthen
If you’re looking for shin splints exercises and stretches, let me warn you: Doing shin splints exercises in the early stages of your recovery is one of the worst things you can do.
Don’t get me wrong; exercises and stretches are a very important part of a complete and thorough shin splints recovery, but many people make the mistake of doing them too early in the rehab process and doing more harm than good.
Seriously… if anyone tries to sell you a “standard set of 20, 50 or 100 exercises” for your shin splints it’s a dead giveaway they don’t know the first thing about soft tissue injury rehab.
You see, when you have an injury like shin splints your body goes through a very specific process to heal the damage, and the treatments you use in the early stages of rehab are very different to the treatments you use in the later stages.
Anyone who says to you… “You just need to do these exercises and eventually your shin splints will get better” …doesn’t know what they’re talking about and are a real danger to your full recovery.
The Right Treatments, in the Right Order
Now, I know you’re probably here looking for more exercises and stretches. But let me ask you… “Have the exercises you’ve been doing helped?” Probably not! Otherwise you wouldn’t be here, right?
Don’t get me wrong… Exercises and stretches are a very important part of a complete and thorough shin splints recovery, but if you try to do them too early in the rehab process you’ll do more harm than good.
Remember when I said earlier that your body goes through a very specific process to heal your shin splints injury. Well, it’s vitally important that you match the right treatment to the right phase of your recovery.
Now the 7 Step System includes plenty of exercises: In fact it has over 60 exercises and stretches that you’ll use as part of your recovery, but the important thing is; you won’t be doing them till you’re really ready for them.
Think of it this way: If you broke your leg, you’d make sure the break was healed before you started doing exercises. So why would you start doing exercises before your shin splints have healed? Doing that is like trying to do exercises with a broken leg, thinking that somehow the exercises will heal the break.
This is why you need to do the right treatments, at the right time, in the right order, otherwise you’ll go round-and-round in circles and never get the relief you’re looking for.
7 Steps to a Complete Shin Splints Recovery
Most rehab plans fail because they only focus on 1 or 2 treatment options. In the 7 Step System however, you’ll get the right treatments, at the right time, in the right order, which guarantees a complete and speedy recovery.
In step 1 I’ll show you 3 simple techniques for cutting your immediate pain down substantially in less than an hour.
Step 2 is all about fixing your biomechanical errors and becoming a better, all-round runner. If you don’t get this right you’ll never have lasting relief from shin splints.
Step 3 is where we lay the ground work for your ongoing recovery. I’ll show you 4 ways to accelerate soft tissue repair and reduce scar tissue, and a few other simple techniques to prepare your legs for the exercises you’ll be doing a little later on.
In step 4 you’ll be re-training your nervous system with 12 exercises to restore balance and coordination. Now I know this may sound a little strange, so let me explain… Whenever you injure a muscle, you also damage the nerves that control and co-ordinate that muscle. So it’s vitally important that you re-train your nervous system before moving onto exercises and stretches.
In step 5 you’ll be doing 7 gentle range of motion exercises for the large muscle groups around your hips and legs. These stretches will help to loosen up your lower back, hips, buttocks and legs so you can do the more specific exercises for your lower legs in steps 6 and 7.
Step 6 is where you’ll start to work specifically on your lower legs and shins with over 30 strength exercises and stretches to help strengthen and stabilize your entire lower body and legs.
And in step 7 you’ll get 19 advanced exercises, stretches and therapies to get you running pain free and never having to worry about shin splints again.
Plus, you’ll also get comprehensive guidelines for using nutrition, diet and supplements (an often neglected part of recovery), to speed up the healing process, and make sure you never waste money of gimmicks and fads that don’t work.
Each step builds on the previous one
Fixing your shin splints, and more importantly, making sure you never have a relapse is all about an integrated treatment plan that walks you step-by-step through the recovery process.
This is why so many other treatment options fail. They only focus on 1 or 2 treatments, and there’s no emphasis on performing them in the right order. You need an integrated treatment plan that focuses on the 7 key steps for a complete shin splints recovery.
Miss any one of these 7 steps, or get them in the wrong order, and your chance of a full recovery is shot.
And here’s where this approach is different… Treatment is based on a 7 step progressive plan of rehabilitation techniques and conditioning exercises, stretches and drills to fully rehabilitate your injured legs:Each step building on the previous one.
90% of other treatment plans ignore this
Your lower leg DOES NOT work in isolation to the rest of your body. While the immediate injury may have occurred to your lower leg and shins, a re-training of your entire body is necessary to rehabilitate, and more importantly, prevent the injury from occurring again.
I need to repeat that because it’s so important and it’s where 90% of recovery fails…
Your lower leg DOES NOT work in isolation to the rest of your body. In other words; for your lower leg and shins to function correctly you need a stable core and hips, you need strong and well-balanced upper legs and buttocks, and you need good range of motion through your entire lower back, hips and legs.
I’m all better… NOT!
What typically happens is someone will use maybe 1 or 2 treatments. They’ll start to feel better, maybe even feel like their shin splints are fixed, and then out-of-the-blue they flare up again and you’re back to where you started.
I’ve seen this dozens of times. And it’s because they failed to complete the full 7 step process. My goal isn’t only to stop your shin splints from hurting; it’s to make you a better, stronger, healthier runner than you were before you got injured.
Because let’s face it… if all I can do is get your shins back to where they were before you injured them: What good is that? The next time you go running or put them under any sort of strain or pressure; you’ll be back where you started. And that’s a frustrating never ending cycle I don’t want you to go through.
Why you should listen to me
My name is Brad Walker and I’m a Health Science graduate of the University of New England with postgraduate accreditations in athletics, swimming and triathlon coaching.
I’ve been involved in stretching, flexibility and sports injury management since the early 1990’s. I’ve lectured for some of the world’s most renowned sports medicine organizations. And I’ve coached elite level and world champion athletes from sports as diverse as triathlon, roller skating, squash, motor cycle racing and baseball.
I’ve written 5 books on stretching and sports injury management; including the Anatomy of Stretching and the Anatomy of Sports Injuries. And Amazon has listed my books at the top of five of their Best-Seller lists.
My stretching and sports injury articles have been published in numerous health and fitness magazines and extensively online at sites like About.com, Athletes.com and BodyBuilding.com. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming and Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured my work. And Google cites over 100,000 references to me and my work on the internet.
And I’ve got satisfied customers from 122 countries that have sent 100’s of personal testimonials about how I’ve helped them. Here are just a few…
I had none of the post race pain I experienced earlier…
“Your products have changed the way I train. The last few years it seemed that whenever running a race of 10 miles or longer, my calves and shins were especially sore and tight, to the extent I could not run for several days. In fact, my last 10 mile race left me in such pain I was unable to run for over two weeks. After changing my habits according to your materials, I ran a half-marathon in 1:25:47 at altitude and had none of the post race pain I experienced earlier when racing at this distance.”Devin
I had almost given up hope…
“Just wanted to say a big thanks for your suggestions. I had almost given up hope of ever being able to run again. Now I’m back running three days a week. Thanks a million.”Geraldine O'Farrell
The injuries have stopped…
“Your information has made a huge difference in my personal fitness level. I play in three basketball leagues and found that I was having regular leg injuries. Once I started receiving your information and applying it, the injuries have stopped.”Tom
Members of our running team say I look much stronger…
“I have now worked your material into my weekly program. I have noticed a great difference in the past week or so, and members of our running team say I look much stronger. I believe your routine has set me on the right track and has helped me push through my workouts much harder and with faster recuperation time than I’ve been able to do before. Thanks for all the work your team put into it.”Robert
What is the 7 Step System?
The 7 Step Shin Splints Treatment System is a customized, self treatment, recovery toolkit in-a-box, and contains everything you need to treat yourself in the comfort of your own home, without dangerous drugs like cortisone, or expensive physical therapy, or invasive surgery.
The 7 Step System is a fully integrated treatment plan, which means it treats your entire body, not just your shins. You’ll get all the treatment options you need for a complete and speedy recovery. You’ll get everything you need to take you from pain and barely being able to walk, to never having to worry about your shin splints again.
The 7 Step System brings the very best treatment options directly to your home, and then guides you step-by-step in how to use those treatments.
What’s included in the 7 Step System?
You’ll get everything you need to treat yourself at home, without having to purchase any other equipment or pay for any other therapies or treatments. The 7 Step System includes…
The 7 Step Shin Splints Treatment manual comes in a large 3-ring binder that contains nearly 60 full-color pages of information, including photographs, diagrams and detailed step-by-step instructions, and outlines everything you’ll need to eliminate your pain, restore your range of movement, strengthen your legs, and ultimately, run again without any fear of re-injury.
Also included as part of the manual, is the shin splints diary, or Recovery Log Book, which will help you stay on track during your recovery, and also provide a record of your progress.
Plus you’ll get the Getting Started Guide, which is a summary, or check-list of the 7 Step System and explains how to get started and answers all your questions about how to use the 7 Step System properly.
Plus, to help with your recovery, you’ll also get a reusable, hot and cold gel pack. Both hot and cold therapy are vital components of your recovery and I want to make sure you have all the tools you need to be able to complete your treatment at home without needing to purchase any other equipment.
And, you’ll also get a set of 3 Thera-Band resistance bands, which are also a key part of your rehabilitation and are specifically designed to work with the treatment exercises in the 7 Step Shin Splints Treatment System.
And Unlimited email support, so you can ask any question you need to as you progress through your recovery. If at any time you’re unsure about any aspect of the treatment process, or what you need to do next, simply send me an email and I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do.
Plus, the downloadable PDF versions of the Shin Splints Treatment manual, the Getting Started Guide and the Recovery Log Book, so you can start your treatment straight away.
Okay… I’m ready to fix my shin splints properly
Remember, you’ll get everything you need to treat yourself at home, without having to purchase any other equipment or pay for any other therapies or treatments.
Act now before your shin splints get any worse. Click on the Add-to-Cart button below, and in the next few minutes you’ll get instant access to a customized, step-by-step, proven method of reducing your pain, fixing your shin splints properly, and then making sure you never have to worry about shin splints pain again.
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If you order today, you’ll also get my Special Bonus Stretching & Flexibility Package worth over $150.00 for FREE! Your FREE Bonus Package includes…
Stretching for Muscle and Joint Freedom
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Special Bonus #3 ($29.00 Value)
You’ll also get a free copy of the Stretching & Flexibility Report by Brad Appleton. This informative report is over 65 pages in length (download version), and includes heaps of detailed information on some of the more technical aspects of stretching and flexibility. It’s a great compliment to your new stretching and flexibility products.
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What’s the alternative?
A typical visit to a chiropractor or physical therapist can cost anywhere from $70 to $150: A doctor or surgeon; and it’s a lot more than that. And that’s just for a one-off visit, if you want to see them again or ask them another question, you have to pay again.
But how do you put a price on unlimited email support? Do you even know of another therapist or doctor who has said… “Hey, here’s my email address, contact me whenever you have a question.“
Not likely. And if they did, I bet it would cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
But what’s the alternative? Physical therapy; massage; chiropractor? If you used any of those, or all 3, you’ll need at least 6 to 10 sessions before you see any real results. At an average of $100 a session, that’s $600 to $1,000.
But don’t worry; you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars. In fact, for less than the cost of 1 visit to your doctor or physical therapist you can have a complete treatment system that walks you step-by-step through the entire rehabilitation process.
Plus unlimited access to a shin splints treatment expert who can answer every question you have and keep you on the right track until your shin splints are 100% fixed.
Don’t be fooled by Wanna-be’s and 1-Trick-Ponies
There’s more to fixing shin splints than first meets the eye, and if you’ve had shin splints pain for a while you’ll know that’s the truth. So here are 3 things to lookout for when searching for a solution to your shin splints pain…
- The Wanna-be: Be very wary of anyone who says… “I had shin splints and fixed it, so now let me fix yours!” Just because someone was able to treat their own shin splints doesn’t qualify them to treat yours. Chances are, their success was more luck than anything else, and what may have worked for them won’t necessarily work for you. Unless someone has a long-term, proven track record of treating 100’s of different people, and can provide testimonials from dozens of satisfied customers, avoid these “Wanna-be’s” like the plague.
- The 1-Trick-Pony: Usually comes in the form of a gadget, or some sort of device that promises a simple fix by doing this “one special thing.” For example; there’s a video on YouTube that promises to fix shin splints by simply rolling a golf ball under your foot. Now there’s nothing wrong with this exercise; in fact, it’s one of the exercises I show you how to do in my 7 step system. But my issue is; it’s only one exercise, and no one single exercise is going to fix your shin splints pain; you need a progressive, integrated plan that treats your entire body, not just your shins, or foot in this case.
- Mine’s Bigger than Yours: Anyone can compile a big collection of 150 or 200 exercises for your shin splints, but as I’ve said before exercises are only one part to your complete recovery. And more importantly, if you don’t heal your shin splints first, exercises will only make them worse. Don’t be fooled by anyone who brags about how many exercises are included in their program.
How will tomorrow be any different than today?
Seriously, if you don’t do something right now to fix your shin splints they won’t magically get better all by themselves. And if you think that just time and rest will fix it; you’re wrong.
Actually, one of the worst things you can do is nothing. The fact is a shin splints injury won’t get better by itself. Ask anyone who has had a problem with their shins for more than a few months.
You need to take responsibility for your own recovery and do something about it now.
With the 7 Step System you’ll get everything you need to fix your shin splints once and for all, and restore pain free, unrestricted movement to your lower legs.
And the bottom line is… Your results are guaranteed. And with our rock-solid 100% Money Back Guarantee, you’ve got nothing to lose; except your shin splints pain. So don’t delay; this offer expires soon!
The Stretch Coach
P.S. You can Rest Easy! I’ve been online since May 2000, and have shipped over 40,000 packages to 122 countries.
P.P.S. Remember, if you order today you’ll get all the extra special bonuses that are the perfect companion to the 7 Step System. And you’ll also qualify for my risk free, 90-Day Money Back Guarantee. Don’t delay -Fix your shoulder now!