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Five Targeted Stretching Exercises for Shin Splints

written by: Justthankful • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 2/12/2010

If you've ever had shin splints, you know they can be painful. This article will describe key stretching exercises for shin splints to help alleviate the discomfort.

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    Shin Splints

    More than likely, you or someone you know has experienced the annoying pain and discomfort due to shin splints. If you want to know about some effective stretching exercises for shin splints, this article will help. You'll also learn about some of the common causes, information that may help to reduce your risk of developing shin splints all together.

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    What are Shin Splints?

    A shin splint is characterized by pain or discomfort along the shin bone, the large bone on the front side of the lower leg. There are two basic types of shin splints. The first, anterior shin splints, are associated with pain in the front of the leg. Medial shin splints manifest as pain near the inside of the shin bone, closer to the calf muscle.

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    What Increases the Risk of Developing Shin Splints?

    • Failure to stretch before exercise
    • Improper stretching before exercise
    • Overworking the muscles (usually the case with extreme athletes)
    • Exercising on hard surfaces
    • Inadequate shoe support
    • Running down a hill
    • Running on an uneven surface
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    Exercises to Treat and Prevent Shin Splints

    The following stretching exercises for shin splints will help you treat and prevent this painful condition:

    • Toe raise – In either a sitting or standing position, raise your toes toward the shin and hold for about 3 seconds and do 3 more repetitions. Now repeat the same exercise on the other leg.
    • Calf stretch – Face and place both hands on a wall with legs spread apart. With the heel to the floor and the knee straight, extend backward the leg that needs to be stretched. Lean forward on the wall to experience a stretch in the lower calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Perform the same procedure for the other leg.
    • Calf raise – Stand on a step or exercise stepper. With feet together, place toes on the edge of the step as if to balance yourself on your toes. The heels should not touch the step. Keeping the knees straight, raise up on your tip toes for 5 seconds and lower the heels to the starting position. Repeat 3 times.
    • Seated shin stretch - Lower yourself on the floor and fold your legs under your body so that your buttocks are touching your heels. Gently press down on your heels in order to stretch the front of the leg. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 more times.
    • Standing shin stretch – In a standing position, cross one leg over the other while bending both knees. Turn the toes of the crossed leg toward the floor (your toenails should be facing the floor). With your hands on your hips, press the ankle of that foot towards the floor to stretch the shin. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Switch legs and repeat.
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    Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

    Shin Splints: Causes. The Mayo Clinic.