Shin splints cause pain in the lower leg, and can be caused by tense, stiff muscles and tendons, or by fractures in the bones. While stretching will not do much to remedy a fracture in the bones, shin splint stretches can certainly help prevent shin splints due to tight or strained muscles. Surprisingly, many shin splint stretches focus on stretching the calf muscles, though some will also focus on stretching the muscles at the front of the shins. It is important to remember that while shin splint stretches are one step in the process of preventing shin splints, other steps may be necessary, such as gait correction.
To begin a regimen of shin splint stretches, start stretching the calf muscles. Find a raised platform or step in a stairway and stand on the platform with the heels of the feet hanging off. Lower the heels below the plane of the platform while keeping the legs straight. This should cause a stretching sensation in the calf muscles. For added resistance, stand with just one foot on the platform and the other hanging in the air. A variation of this exercise can be done by pressing the toes and ball of the foot against a wall and leaning forward, or by using a calf-stretching machine at a local gym or fitness center.
To stretch the muscles on the front of the shin, two shin splint stretches should be executed. The first will require the person to kneel on the ground or on a soft pad. With the upper body straight and the toes pointing away from the body, the person will slowly dip the upper body backward toward the feet. The person can stop when resistance is felt in the shins; hold the position momentarily, then return to the starting position. Perform the motion slowly, and repeat it two or three times, holding the stretching position for several seconds.
The other exercise to stretch the muscles of the shins involves sitting in a straight-backed chair and pushing the legs backward toward the back of the chair. The tops of the feet should be resting on the ground. The person will have to shift his or her body forward to get into position. Once this position has been reached, lean the upper body backward slightly until resistance is felt. Once these exercises have been executed, the person may use a resistance band to perform shin splint stretches. The band can be wrapped around a solid object, and the other end of the band can be looped around the foot. The resistance provided by the band should allow several different positions of stretching.