Shin splints are often caused due to imbalance of strength between the calf muscles and the shin muscles. If the calf muscles are tight, they exert a lot of pressure on the shin muscles, causing them to work harder. Before we move on to stretches that provide relief from shin splints, let us first try to understand what are they exactly.
What are Shin Splints?
Inflammation of the muscles of the shin bone, which is located on the inside of the front of the lower leg, is called shin splints. Sometimes, injuries in the lower part of the leg are also referred to as shin splints. Its common symptoms are pain or tenderness along the shin, which may extend to the knee as well. Inflexible calf muscles are a major cause of this problem. The other common causes include Achilles tendons, over pronation, excessive running on hard surfaces, over training, etc.
Stretching Exercises for Shin Splints
Certain stretches and exercises when done in the right manner, can reduce the pain and discomfort caused due to shin splints. Given below is a list of such stretches.
Stretch # 1
The calf muscles are the most important part of the shin. Hence, calf stretches are extremely crucial to cure shin splints. You will need either a staircase or a step, which can be used to stand on. Place your feet on the step in such a way that your heels hang off the edge. Now, slowly lower your body, so that your heels are at a diagonal angle with the step. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds. Slowly come back to the original position. Repeat after short intervals of time.
Stretch # 2
It is relatively difficult to stretch the front of the lower leg. This stretching exercise is called seated shin stretch. To do this stretch, kneel down and place your buttocks on your heel, and not the toes of the feet. Gently push your body weight on the heels, so that you can feel the stretch on the front of the leg. Stay in this position for about 20 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat the stretch 3-4 times.
Stretch # 3
Like the seated shin stretch, this is a standing shin stretch. Read the instructions for this stretch carefully. The instructions might seem complicated, but it is a very simple stretch. Stand and place the toes of your right foot on the floor, beyond the left foot. Slowly start bending the left leg (weight bearing leg), so that you will push your ankle towards the ground. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds before you relax. Repeat this stretch 3-4 times. Now change the position of the legs and repeat.
Stretch # 4
To do this stretch, stand approximately 2 feet away from the wall and keep shoulder-width distance between your feet. Place your palms on the wall. Without moving your legs or feet, lower your body into the wall, until your calf muscles are stretched. Hold in this position for 30 to 45 seconds and repeat the stretch 3 times.
Stretch # 5
This is a very simple yet effective exercise for shin splints. You will need a towel for this exercise. Sit on the floor barefoot and wrap a towel around the soles of your feet. Do this by holding one end of the towel in your left hand, wrap it around the soles of your feet, and hold the other end of the towel in your right hand. Now start pulling the towel towards your body till you feel that the calves are stretched enough. Hold for 45 seconds and repeat the stretch 3 times.
These stretches keep the muscles in lower legs supple and also help in reducing tension in and around the shins. It is however recommended that you talk to your health care professional before you start any of the stretches in order to rule out any possible complications.