No one specific cause of shin splints exist; instead, several conditions can cause the pain often identified as shin splints, so before stretching shin splints, it is important to determine what is causing the pain in the first place. While stretching shin splints can be beneficial if the pain is muscular, it may not be so helpful if the pain is caused by a bone fracture. Stretching shin splints can also be counterproductive if a tendon, ligament, or muscle has been torn, leading to pain in the shins or lower legs. Before doing any stretching, it may be worth visiting a doctor to determine the cause of the pain.
Once you have determined what is causing the pain, you may conclude that stretching shin splints will help alleviate pain and prevent the shin splints from recurring. If this is the case, it is important to research the best stretches for the specific problem you have in your lower legs. Start slowly, regardless of what stretches you are doing, to ensure you do not exacerbate the injury. Once you figure out what kind of condition your muscles are in, you can increase the stretching duration or intensity accordingly. Be sure to rest adequately between stretches as well as after physical activity.
It is important to stretch before and after physical activity, and if the person suffering from shin splints is fairly inactive throughout the day, he or she should make a point of getting out of his or her chair to walk around periodically. This will stretch out the muscles naturally and promote blood flow to the lower legs. It is important to remember, too, that stretching shin splints can only do so much to improve the situation; certain regular practices, habits, and lifestyles will exacerbate the pain and prevent a full recovery. Obesity, for example, is likely to exacerbate the pain and prevent a full recovery.
It may be a good idea to consider a workout program in addition to stretching shin splints to ensure the muscles are conditioned properly. An exercise program will not only strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the lower legs, but it will also encourage blood flow that can promote healing and improve overall body function. If the shin splints are caused by muscle tightness, exercise will help alleviate the pain and prevent it from recurring by strengthening the muscles. Weak muscles tend to tire quickly, and when muscles tire, they tighten up, potentially leading to shin splints.