Shin Splints Exercises Part 1: What Are the Best Stretches for Shin Splints?

by | Feb 16, 2022 | General Chiropractic | 0 comments

Stretching may seem like something only athletes do. However, we all need to do it to avoid injury and maintain our mobility on a regular basis.

We need the flexibility to maintain range of motion in our joints, so stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. Otherwise, the muscles shorten and tighten. Hence, when you call upon the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend fully. Those things put your joints at risk for pain, strains, and muscle damage.

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, medically known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, are among the most dangerous conditions an athlete faces. When left untreated and with continued activity, stress fractures could develop. Signs of stress fracture without imaging include feeling a severe ache in the shin while at rest and failure for the taping techniques to provide relief. 

At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, we use a variety of soft tissue (FAKTR, Graston Technique, Active Release), taping techniques to relieve pain and assist with ROM, rehab procedures to relieve the symptoms and stabilize the region, modalities including Radiopulse Frequency (Shock Wave Therapy), and Cold Laser.

What Causes Shin Splints?

Repeated stress on the shinbone and on the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone leads to shin splints.

Other factors may put you at high risk of shin splints, namely:

  • Sporting or training is being started or intensified: People who start a new sport or training regimen are more likely to experience shin splints as tissues respond to increased use.
  • Wearing shoes that don’t provide support: Shoes that don’t offer good support and cushioning—even some running shoes—can be a trigger.
  • Playing sports or running on hard surfaces: This is especially true if you’re doing a lot of foot drills like making a lot of starts and stops or jumping. This can also bring about stress fractures.
  • Running on uneven or hilly terrain: Exercises that force your legs and feet to readjust often cause shin splints.
  • Preexisting foot and ankle problems: The most common are flat feet, high arches, or hyperpronation, in which too much weight falls on the inside of the foot.
  • Running with poor form: Your heels might strike the ground too strongly while running.
  • Tight calf muscles: Your shins may feel extra pressure if your calf muscles are tight.

Best Stretches for Shin Splints

Below are the best stretches you can do to reduce shin splints!

Gastrocnemius Calf Stretch

  1. Stand three feet away from a wall. Step with your right foot toward the wall.
  2. Place both palms against the wall. Bend the right knee.
  3. Keep your left leg straight and your left heel on the floor as you lean forward.
  4. Hold for between 30 and 60 seconds. Do this two times.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

Soleus Calf Stretch

  1. Stand 3 feet away from a wall. Step with your right foot toward the wall.
  2. Place both palms against the wall. Lean forward while bending both knees. Make sure both heels are on the floor.
  3. Hold it for 30-60 seconds. Let both legs relax. Do this twice.
  4. Perform this exercise three times daily or as instructed.

Achilles Tendon Standing Stretch

  1. Place yourself on the edge of a stable raised platform, such as the bottom step of a staircase.
  2. Make sure only the front half of each foot is on the step by carefully adjusting the feet. The heels should be moved up and down without hitting the floor.
  3. While on your tiptoes, slowly lower your heels as far as you can.
  4. Do this 20 times.

Achilles Tendon Seated Stretch

  1. Extend your affected leg so that your heel is on the floor while sitting in a chair.
  2. Reach down and pull your big toe up and back (away from the floor and toward your ankle).
  3. Hold the position for about 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. You may repeat this exercise twice, up to five times a day.

Tibialis Anterior Muscle Stretch

  1. Stand up and bend your knees slightly. You may want to rest your hand on a wall or other support to keep your balance.
  2. One foot remains firmly planted on the ground. The foot that is to be stretched is placed just behind this stable foot, with the toe of the stretched foot touching the ground.
  3. Keep your toe firmly on the ground, then pull the stretching leg forward, so you feel a stretch from the top of your stretching foot through your shins.
  4. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds when you feel a good stretch.
  5. Repeat the stretch with the other foot.

Strengthening the Anterior Tibialis

  1. Sit on the floor or a bench.
  2. Loop an exercise band around your foot and secure it around something sturdy.
  3. Turn your toes toward you and flex your ankle toward you to the count of two. Return your ankle to its original position to the count of four.
  4. Do 10 to 20 repetitions of two to three sets a day.

Strengthening the Gastroc-soleus Muscles

  1. Stand and spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise your heels to the count of two, and lower them to the count of four.
  3. Make sure you’re on the tips of your toes. Use a chair or wall for support if you need it.
  4. Do 10 to 20 repetitions of two to three sets daily.

Eccentric Gastrocnemius

  1. Stand and spread your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Start on the tip of your feet, raise your heels, take your non-painful leg off the ground.
  3. Lower your ankle for 3-5 seconds
  4. 20 to 30 reps per day. 

How to Prevent Shin Splints

By following these steps, you may be able to avoid or reduce your risk for shin splints:

  • Wear athletic shoes that are properly fitted: Shin splints can be prevented by wearing the right shoes for your sport.
  • Runners should have their stride evaluated at a running store: They can help you find shoes that fit your foot structure and stride. Furthermore, you might need inserts if you have flat feet or high arches.
  • Replace your shoes regularly: If you are a runner, you should buy a new pair of shoes every 350 miles.
  • Increase your fitness level gradually: Step up your physical activity week by week. This will help you build strength and loosen up your muscles.
  • Cross-train: You can prevent shin splints by changing your movements. Try swimming, biking, or yoga a few times a week to break up your routine.
  • Consider wearing shock-absorbing insoles: They will cushion the impact on your shins during exercise.

We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!

Shin splint pain may go away on its own if you’re working out often and stretching daily. Return to your regular exercise routine slowly and gradually to avoid reinjuring yourself. Starting with walking is a good idea if you’re a runner. After walking pain-free for a few days, you can start jogging slowly. Always remember to stretch before and after a workout, too.

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, NJ, and Hackensack, NJ, are ready to welcome you! 

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