Are shin splints stopping you from reaching your fitness goals? Many runners and athletes experience this common injury and are all too familiar with the discomfort shin splints can cause.
Here’s the good news: simple stretches and physical therapy are often all you need to alleviate your pain and get back on your feet feeling better than ever.
To help you get started, we have outlined the best stretches to recover from shin splints and prevent them from halting your workout or disrupting your life. So get ready to put your best foot forward as we explore the following PT-recommended stretches for shin splints.
1. Soleus Calf Stretch
The soleus is a deep and powerful muscle in the calf that supports the tibia. This stretch helps relax the calf muscles, so they won’t be as tight and prone to injury.
How to do a Soleus Calf Stretch:
Step 1: Begin by standing upright, with your feet slightly apart.
Step 2: Place your left foot behind your right, and while bending both knees, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your right calf muscle.
Step 3: Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
2. Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings are a group of muscles located on the back of your thigh, responsible for controlling knee flexion and hip extension. Tight hamstrings can cause an imbalance in the lower body, leading to the improper use of other muscle groups and repeated stress on the body — which can lead to shin splints.
How to do a Hamstring Stretch:
Step 1: Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs in front of you.
Step 2: Bend one leg while keeping the other straight.
Step 3: Lean forward slightly, and reach for your toes with both hands.
3. Gastrocnemius Stretch
The calf muscles are responsible for absorbing shock from using the lower half of your body, so it’s important to focus on this area to relieve shin splints. The gastrocnemius calf muscles are crucial for walking and maintaining proper posture.
How to do a Gastrocnemius Stretch:
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands against a wall for balance.
Step 2: Put one foot behind you, ensuring your back heel is flat on the floor, and bend your front knee.
Step 3: Lean forward into the wall until you feel the stretch in the calf muscle of your back leg.
Step 4: Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
4. Kneeling Shin Stretch
Kneeling stretches help reduce stress on your lower legs and provide gentle relief from shin splints.
How to do a Kneeling Shin Stretch:
Step 1: Kneel on a mat and make sure your knees are hip-width apart while the tops of your feet are flat against the floor.
Step 2: Slowly sit down on your heels, and be sure not to sit between your ankles.
Step 3: Hold for 20 seconds.
Stretching is an important part of treating and preventing shin splints. Being aware of proper techniques and doing exercises that target the muscles around your shins is key to successfully recovering and avoiding future injury.
Luna’s exceptional physical therapists help patients navigate shin splints by tailoring stretches and exercises to their needs. Contact us to get matched with a physical therapist and return to your active lifestyle.