How to treat shin splints by stretching

This article was medically reviewed by Troy A. Miles, MD. Dr. Miles is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Adult Joint Reconstruction in California. He received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2010, followed by a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and fellowship at the University of California, Davis. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the North Pacific Orthopaedic Society.

There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 421,375 times.

Shin splints are characterized by pain along the side or front of the shin. [1] X Research source You can get shin splints for many reasons, including if you have flat feet, improper footwear, exercise too intensely, or have poor body alignment. Although treatment of shin splints is typically multi-faceted, stretching is a great place to start and will relieve symptoms in mild to moderate cases. [2] X Research source Just follow a few simple steps to do stretches that will alleviate your shin splints and help you prevent them in the future.

We asked physical therapists for the best methods to relieve your pain.

If you’ve ever had shin splints, you know how painful the condition can be. Unfortunately, the hurt you’re feeling is usually a consequence of overtraining.

“Shin splints (also known as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome) is a painful syndrome that is often the results of a ‘too much too soon’ approach to training (in other words, overloading),” says Dr. Rachel Tavel, PT, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist at Shift Wellness in NYC.

Shin splints are essentially caused by micro tears forming along the border of the tibia and lower leg muscles, where they attach to the bone.

“It can feel like a dull ache in the lower leg, along the bottom third of the leg, or like a hammer is pounding at the bone when you walk or run,” says Dr. Tavel. “There is usually some tension/tightness around the area as well.”

How to treat shin splints by stretching

But don’t worry if you’re feeling the pain—the condition is also super common and normal.

“Shin splints are very common in the U.S., with more than 3 million cases reported a year,” says Dr. Mirette Mikhail, PT, DPT, CEIS, MTC, CertDN, and clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy.

How To Prevent Shin Splints

If you frequently get shin splints, that may be an indicator of muscle weakness in other parts of your body.

“While shin splints is a common lower leg injury, it is imperative that runners improve hip and core strength simultaneously,” says Dr. Anh Bui, PT, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist at EXOS in Larkspur, California. “The glutes, in particular, are the largest, most powerful muscle in the human body and influence control of the knee and ankle joints, which can minimize stress on smaller muscles in the lower leg.”

And while stretching and strengthening is crucial, improving running mechanics is just as important.

“Overstriding is the number one risk factor during running associated with shin splints.” says Dr. Bui. “Landing with your foot far in front of your body increases the impact forces going directly to the tibia (shin bone) instead of being absorbed by larger joints such as the hip. Runners with shin splints should look at their cadence (step rate per minute) and increase by 5 to 10 percent if cadence is less than 180.”

However, the key to preventing shin splints is to address the problem as soon as you start to feel it.

“Once pain starts, a patient should rest the area, apply ice and then massage,” says says Dr. Mikhail. “Consider modifying your sport as running or jumping tends to cause shin splint pain.”

You should also reconsider your shoe selection.

“Proper shoe wear is also important as sometimes a loss of arch support is the cause of shin splints,” adds Dr. Mikhail.

If your shin splints are not going away, you may need to see a doctor.

“You should be referred to a MD to ensure the cause of pain is in fact shin splints and not something more serious, like anterior compartment syndrome,” notes Dr. Mikhail.

If it’s too late and you’re not able to prevent the condition, you do have options. One of the best ways to get rid of shin splints is to stretch out.

Shin Splint Stretches

We asked physical therapists for their favorite stretches to help you alleviate shin splints.

Stretch 1: Kneeling Plantarflexion Stretch

Begin in a tall kneeling position with the tops of your feet on the floor. Sit back onto your legs until you feel a stretch in your feet, and hold this position for 30 seconds.

“Make sure to keep your back straight during the exercise,” says Dr. Mikhail. “Stretch three times daily, seven days a week until pain subsides. After pain subsides, stretch three times daily, three days a week.”

Stretch 2: Standing Gastroc Stretch Off a Step

“Stand with both feet on a step or curb. Lower one heel off of the curb until you feel a mild intensity stretch. Hold for 2 minutes. Low load, long duration stretches deliver the most carryover,” says Dr. Bui. “Spend 2 to 5 minutes total. Make sure you are on muscle, not bone!”

Stretch 3: Soleus Stretch on Wall

Begin in a standing upright position in front of a wall. Place your hands on the wall and extend one leg backward with your front knee bent. Lean forward into the wall until you feel a stretch in your lower calf and hold for 30 seconds. After you’re done with one leg, switch sides and repeat.

“Make sure to keep your heels on the ground and back knee bent during the stretch,” says Dr. Mikhail. “Stretch three times daily, seven days a week until pain subsides. After pain subsides, stretch three times daily, three days a week.”

Stretch 4: Knee Drives for Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobilization

In a half kneeling position with both knees on the floor, drive the front knee forward aiming towards your pinky toe, while keeping the heel on the ground. Push the knee with your hand as far as it can go without lifting the heel off the ground, hold for 2 seconds, and repeat 20 times/day for about 2 minutes total,” says Dr. Bui.

Stretch 5: Long Sitting Calf Stretch with Strap

Begin sitting on the floor with one foot stretched in front of you, your other knee bent, and a strap secured around your foot. Slowly pull your foot towards you with the strap until you feel a stretch in your calf and hold for 30 seconds. After you’re done with one leg, switch sides and repeat.

“Make sure to keep your knee straight during the stretch,” says Dr. Mikhail. “Stretch three times daily, seven days a week until pain subsides. After pain subsides stretch three times daily, three days a week.”

Alternative Stretch: Self Massage

You can also do some self massage on your shin splints.

“If you want to self massage both the tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior simultaneously, I recommend the Roll Recovery R8 tool,” says Dr. Bui.

Anterior shin splints: For anterior shin splints, you want to self massage painful trigger points in the tibialis anterior muscle (front of the leg).

“Start on your hands and knees. Position the front/outside of the painful leg against a foam roller or lacrosse ball. Cross one leg on top of the other so all your bodyweight is on the front of one leg. Roll up and down to find painful trigger points, then hold pressure on the painful spots, while moving the ankle up and down. When you feel the painful spot release, move on and find the next one,” says Dr. Bui.

Posterior shin splints: For posterior shin splints, self massage the tibialis posterior and calf muscles by first sitting on the floor with both legs straight.

“Place a foam roller or lacrosse ball underneath the back of your leg. Cross one leg over the other. Roll up and down to find the painful spot, then hold the pressure, and move your ankle up and down,” says Dr. Bui.

Nothing slows a runner down like the nagging pain of shin splints. Ouch! Soothe the aches of your sore shins with a few helpful tips and stretches from Ann Bruck, ACE-personal trainer and registered yoga teacher of The Sports Club/LA-Boston.

Shin Splints Solutions:

1. Wear proper fitting shoes: Choosing a shoe that is suited for you foot type based on gait, cushion, arch support, fit and sport will help decrease the risk of injury. Also, be sure to change your shoes every 3-6 months or every 500 miles.

2. Ice the affected area: Once you feel the achiness in the front of your legs apply ice 4-6 times a day for approximately 15 minutes to decrease inflammation of the shins. Be sure to protect the skin by placing a cloth or wrap between the skin and ice.

3. Active rest: Rather than avoiding physical activity all together, try non-impact exercise such as biking or swimming.

4. Stretch: Tight calf muscles are contributing factor when it comes to shin pain. Stretch your calves, with these great moves below to loosen up your muscles.

The Stretch: Toes up, Heels down

Benefit: to strengthen the anterior tibialis (front portion of lower leg)

What you need: a sturdy wall or door you can lean against

How to perform: To strengthen the anterior tibialis, stand with your heels at the wall. Place the left heel at the same distance as the right toes and then place the right foot to be in line with the left. Slowly lean back so the buttocks and shoulders are against the wall. From here, gently lift the toes toward your shins (dorsiflexion). Hold this for a count of 5 and then slowly release the toes to the floor. Repeat this 10-15 times. As you begin to build up strength, you can increase your holding count t to build endurance and strength.

Shin splints are an injury commonly experienced by athletes. Runners, football players, and even dancers all can experience shin splints from time to time. Whether you have shooting pain or tight muscles around your shins, there are ways to prevent shin splints from affecting your activities.

Often called the toe-drag stretch, this important stretch will extend from the top of your foot up into your shin, releasing tension and preventing tightening. To stretch the tibialis anterior muscle in your shin, begin by standing up straight and bending both knees slightly. One foot should remain on the ground while the other foot curls. The curled foot’s toes should press against the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching to the other foot.

For a kneeling stretch, kneel on a mat with your buttocks directly over your heels. The tops of your feet should be flat on the floor. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, but beware of any pain. While this should stretch your shins, it shouldn’t place any strain on your knees.

If you’re stuck in a chair all day, there is still an easy way to keep your shins stretched. While seated, drop one of your knees towards the ground and gently curl the toes towards the ground. Pull yourself forward while the toes are still curled towards the ground. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat on each side.

For an easy shin stretch and quick exercise, walk on your heels for a few minutes before exercising. You can then switch it up by walking on your toes. After doing both of these stretches, your shins and calves should feel stretched, flexible, and ready to move.

Learn more about Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, commonly known as Shin Splints, in our informative video.

Pharmacist Abraham, discusses Shin Splints. How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints. Shin Splints Treatment, Stretches, Exercises, Symptoms, Causes and Lots More.

In this weeks video we’re looking at How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints With Treatment Stretches Exercises. This video consists of the current information on home remedies and treatments you can try to Get Rid Of Shin Splints.

00:00​​ Shin Splints | How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints With Treatment Stretches Exercises
00:23 Shin Splints Symptoms and Causes
01:39 How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints With Treatment Stretches Exercises
07:50 My Shin Splints Stretches
08:55 When To Seek Medical Advice For Shin Splints
10:21 Conclusion – Shin Splints | How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints With Treatment Stretches Exercises

Shin splints are a painful, tender feeling you get at the front of your lower leg where you have a big bone called your Tibia. Your bones, muscles, joints and tendons are normally really good shock absorbers. But when we do high impact activities like jumping, running or dancing they need more time to recover!

So When your body is struggling to recover from high impact activities, your body will let you know by sending pain signals to the affected area! Remember, if you haven’t been active for a while and you suddenly get back into your old routine, it might be too much too soon for your body.

More often than not, This is an all too common cause of shin splints which is easily preventable by taking a slower and steadier approach. Now, let’s have a look at what you can do to recover from shin splints.

Please do follow the advice and stretched explained in the video. Here are some additional advice.

• Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain – Always check with your Pharmacist or other Healthcare Professional to help you decide which one is best and safest for you, in addition always read the information leaflet that comes with any medication
• Put an ice pack (or bag of frozen vegetables) in a towel on your shin for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
• Switch to gentle exercise such as yoga or swimming while healing
• Exercise on soft ground, if you can, when you're feeling better
• Warm up before exercise and stretch after exercise
• Make sure your trainers or shoes support your feet properly

• Do not continue doing the exercise that caused your shin splints
• Do not rush back into exercise at the level you were at – build your exercise routine back up slowly

If you feel like your shin splints are not getting any better after 1 or 2 weeks then you should see a Healthcare Professional. Don’t leave it too long as you could be setting yourself up for permanent damage to your shins.

Any bruising or severe swelling that won’t go away definitely needs to be checked out by a healthcare professional.

Any kind of shooting pains or sharp sudden pain could mean you have a more serious injury rather than just shin splints and needs to be checked out by a healthcare professional.

And lastly, pain that isn’t going away even with painkillers or red swollen skin could be other signs that you need to see a Healthcare Professional.

Remember even if you feel like you’ve left it too long to see a Healthcare Professional, remember they are always there to help! Even if it has been a few months, it’s never too late!

This video is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Abraham The Pharmacist has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

Whether you are a beginner runner or have had a lifetime of experience in the running, shin splints are equally painful for everyone. It is the worst kind of injury anyone; especially, athletes can get. Shin splints cause an unbearable amount of pain, concentration in the front portion of your leg. The pain comes down along the tibia and generally accelerates during or after a workout when the affected area is pressed or touched.

In a few cases, there is a tightening pain that makes running extremely difficult or even impossible in some cases. Injuries like shin splints are extremely dangerous as they can cause an athlete their entire career. It decreases their speed too quickly and makes their legs too stiff to run.

So, in this guide, we have come up with Guide to Shin Splint Treatment, their causal reasons, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

How are Shin Splints caused?

Shin splints are considered one of the most frustrating injuries. It makes the simple task of running feel impossible. Shin splints have caused many athletes to lose the results of their hard-worked gains. Any bone-related shin injury is called medial tibial stress syndrome. This injury covers a broad range of ailments, from stress injury, a feeling of irritation in the bone, to stress fracture, an actual crack in the bone. The one who is injured has to bear maximum pain during and after the exercise. The tibia hurts the most whenever it is touched or pressed.

The cause of shin splint is pulling or tugging to muscle and connective tissue in the lower leg. Shin pains that are bone-related are more common than muscle-related shin pain. Due to repetitive and frequent pressure from constant running, jumping, and leg work, the bone becomes inflamed, and it causes the bone structure to swell.

The swelling of bones is a result of three relevant factors,

  • Body Mechanics include the foot type, foot strike, and the built of the body.
  • If you are involved in a high-intensity workout without proper warm-up or practice, your shin splint might be caused due to the amount of activity.
  • Lastly, Bone Density can be a causal factor of shin splint (especially among women)

All three problems work together, creating an unbearable pain in the area, making every task difficult.

A less common muscular problem can also lead to shin splint, which is Exertional Compartment Syndrome, ECS. It is characterized by tightening of the shin. It can happen in any portion of the lower leg and worsens more and more with exercise. Patients often complain about massive pain in the front part of their legs. However, the rest of the leg remains pain-free until they exercise.

How to Treat Shin Splint?

The most important thing you need to do to treat your shin is to take ample rest, relax your body, ice the shin to ease the inflammation and irritation.

Here are some ways to treat your injured shin:

  • For Bone-related Shin splints – First of all, you need to see a doctor and get diagnosed properly. If you have a stress injury, it can turn into a stress fracture, the consequences of which are fatal and long-lasting. After getting your medical treatment, give your body an ample amount of rest. Engage in other activities that do not put stress on your legs, like swimming. This will help you recover faster as well as keep you in momentum with working out.
  • For muscle-related injury – For ECS, a Foam Roll is everything you need. Foam roll will help loosen the tightened muscle around your shin. Run a foam roller over your calves and shins several times a day. You can also try manual massage to help with the excruciating pain. Get arch support and stability shoes to treat your feet from the biomechanical problems in the correct way.

How to prevent splints?

It is always advised to prevent something from happening than to run after finding its cure. Learning how to prevent shin splints will be the safest option in every situation. Here are some preventive methods for a shin splint.

  • Use insoles and orthopedic shoes – shoe inserts that are custom made for collapsed or fallen arches help with better balance. Often, a flat foot is one of the biggest reasons for shin splint. If you have a flat foot, switch your regular shoes with the ones that support arches.
  • Check your health: Your calcium and vitamin D affect bone health and bone density. Too much or too little presence of these in your body will harm your health.
  • Strengthen your core – Strengthening your core will help build a strong base as a runner. It will improve your body mechanics and running strides.
  • Comply with the 10-percent rule: Never increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10%, or it will cause your shins to splint.
  • Shorten your strides: This will help you generate better stride mechanics and put less effort on your feet, shins, knees, and up the kinetic chain. 85 to 90 strikes of one foot in a minute is quite a good number.

However, if your shin splint pain is extreme, take anti-inflammatory medicine and painkillers. Stick to non-steroidal like aspirin, ibuprofen, and similar painkillers to lessen the inflammation and swelling.

How to know that your shin splint has healed?

Here are some signs you should look for to see if your shin has healed:

  • If your injured leg is as flexible as the other one
  • If you can jump, jog, and sprint without any pain
  • If your injured leg feels as strong as the other leg
  • If there is no pain upon tapping, pressing, or pushing the injured spots with force

If you have all these signs, your shin sprint has healed completely. However, you should still be careful and practice all the preventive measures so that you do not have to go through them again.

Shin splints are pain on the inner part of the shinbone. They’re usually brought on by running or another high-impact activity.

Shin splints, also called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), get better with rest and don’t cause lasting problems.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Shin Splints?

People with shin splints have pain along the inner edge of the shinbone, also known as the tibia. The pain usually happens during activity and may last for a while afterward.

Shin splints also can lead to swelling and tenderness of the shinbone.

How to treat shin splints by stretching

What Causes Shin Splints?

The pain of shin splints is caused by irritation and swelling of the muscles, tendons, and bones in the lower leg.

Shin splints are an overuse injury. They happen because someone does the same movement over and over again (for example, running). They also can happen if a person makes a sudden change in an exercise routine, such as exercising more often, making the workouts more intense, introducing hills too quickly, or a change in running surface..

Who Gets Shin Splints?

Shin splints tend to happen in people who do high-impact activities or ones with frequent stops and starts, such as running, jumping, basketball, football, soccer, and dancing.

Some things make it more likely that someone will get shin splints, such as:

  • having flat feet
  • exercising while wearing worn-out athletic shoe sor shoes with poor arch support and/or padding
  • being overweight
  • having hips and ankles that are not flexible
  • poor form while running, such as taking too long a stride and/or a big heel strike

How Are Shin Splints Diagnosed?

To diagnose shin splints, health care providers:

  • ask about symptoms
  • do an exam, paying special attention to the lower leg

Usually no testing is needed to diagnose shin splints, but X-rays may be done to rule out stress fractures and other potential causes of leg pain.

How Are Shin Splints Treated?

People with shin splints need to cut down or avoid all activities that cause pain. Walking and non-weight bearing exercises (like swimming or riding a bike) usually do not cause pain and can be continued.

To help with shin splints, a health care provider may recommend that you:

  • Put ice or a cold pack on the shin every 1–2 hours for 15 minutes at a time. (Put a thin towel over the skin to protect it from the cold.)
  • Take medicine for pain such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or store brand) or acetaminophen (Tylenol or store brand). Follow the directions that come with the medicine for how much to take and how often to take it.
  • Do exercises to stretch and strengthen the foot/leg muscles and tendons.
  • Use an elastic wrap or compression stocking to help with pain and swelling.
  • Wear better footwear with arch support.
  • Improve their running form/gait.

Can People With Shin Splints Play Sports?

Someone with shin splints:

  • can do any sport that doesn’t cause pain
  • should stop doing any activity that causes pain
  • can slowly return to sports after being pain-free for 2 weeks

Depending on how severe the symptoms are, it can take up to 4–6 weeks of rest before a person should return to sports.

Looking Ahead

Shin splints usually get completely better with rest. To help prevent shin splints from coming back:

How to treat shin splints by stretching

Shin splints can be very painful, but following this simple guide to how to treat shin splints can ease your pain.
In this article:

How To Treat Shin Splints At Home

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints refer to the inflammation of muscles, bone tissue, and tendons along the tibia. It manifests itself as pain along the inner edges of the tibia.

Shin Splints Causes

It usually occurs when bone tissue and muscles in the legs are overworked by repetitive tasks. Lifestyle changes such as suddenly increasing workout frequency or changes in intensity and duration such as running on hills or longer distances may cause one to develop this condition. Other factors include:

  • Flat Feet
  • Weak hips, ankles or core muscles
  • Exercising without warming up or cooling down with stretches
  • Inadequate shoes that do not provide enough support or are ill-fitting

Shin Splints Symptoms

Experiencing pain and swelling along the border of your tibia is the usual symptom of shin splints. Other common symptoms include:

  • Pain when touching the affected area
  • Experiencing pain before and after exercises
  • A sharp or dull throbbing pain

Shin splints can be very painful but there are a lot of ways to treat it at home.

Shin Splints Treatment

Step 1: Rest

It is important to stop any activity that may be putting stress on your shins to let it heal. Avoid strenuous activity to not cause any more damage.

Step 2: Keep Your Legs Elevated

How to treat shin splints by stretching

Elevating an injured area can help move fluid away from that particular part of the body to lessen swelling and pain. Keep the affected leg elevated for at least 2 to 3 minutes by supporting it with a pillow or towel roll underneath.

Step 3: Use Ice

A cold compress can be placed on your shins whenever you feel the pain to reduce swelling. Keep doing this for about three days, or stop sooner if you’re no longer in pain.

Step 4: Bind the Ice with Compression Bandages

Compression bandages with elastic wrap can be used to apply ice to the injury. Wrap the ice bag or cold compress with the bandages to keep it steady on your legs.

Step 5: Massage

You can massage your shins with your hands or foam rollers for added relief.

Step 6: Do Shin Splints Exercises

Doing stretching exercises can help relieve tight or painful shins. The standing anterior tibialis shin stretch is very easy to do and doesn’t require equipment or a lot of space.
Standing Anterior Tibialis Shin Stretch

  • Stand and put your hand on the wall for support.
  • Slightly bend both the knees.
  • Be sure to keep one foot securely on the floor. The other foot must be stretched and placed behind the stable foot, with the toe of the foot being stretched touching the floor.
  • As your toes are placed squarely on the floor, pull the leg being stretched forward. You’ll feel the stretch from the top of your stretching foot reaching the shins.
  • Hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
  • Repeat the process using the other foot.

Step 7: Take Medication

Medicine such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen decrease swelling and ease pain. Please consult with your doctor first before taking any medicines because they may have side effects.

Step 8: Get Foot Arch Supports

Consulting with a doctor about proper footwear and shock-absorbing insoles may help ease your pain.

Step 9: Get Help from a Physical Therapist

Experts in physical therapy can help by giving you routine exercises to strengthen the muscles in your legs.

Recovery from Shin Splints

It usually takes two to four weeks to recover from this condition. If the pain disappears within that time frame, you can start exercising with less intensity. If you start to experience pain, however, you must stop exercising immediately. Some people can take up to three to six months to fully recover from shin splints.
Here are some signs that your shin splints are fully recovered:

  • Pushing on the painful spot no longer causes pain.
  • Jogging, sprinting and jumping no longer causes pain.
  • The injured leg’s flexibility is at the same level as the uninjured one.
  • The injured leg has the same amount of strength as the uninjured leg.

Shin Splints Prevention

    on hard surfaces.
  • Stretch and warm up before and after exercising.
  • Wear proper footwear with adequate padding and support.
  • Try cross training and low impact exercises such as biking and swimming.
  • Make sure you only start exercising after two weeks of not experiencing any pain.
  • Use a cold compress or ice bag on your shins after physical activity to reduce any swelling.
  • Don’t over exercise and don’t return to your previous intensity level. Take it slow and start increasing intensity gradually.

Check out this informative video from Physical Therapy Video to learn some easy at-home treatments for shin splints:

In the end, overworking yourself can cause you to develop shin splints. It is very important that you pace yourself while exercising to avoid injuries. Shin splints can very painful, but taking time off and trying out home treatments can make the symptoms go away. Remember to stay off physical activity for at least two weeks after developing the symptoms. Be sure to see a doctor if the symptoms aren’t improving or if they’re getting worse.
What at-home treatments have you tried for shin splints? Tell us in the comments section below!
Up Next: Make This Acai Bowl Recipe To Boost Your Health And Immunity