Shin pain, there’s nothing like it! It can be very debilitating for a running or cycling endurance athlete. Or those who are aiming to improve their fitness for/or in pre season training for Rugby, Football, Hockey etc, where you run a lot on hard ground. It can be a strong and intense pain while training, which sometimes doesn’t go away with rest. Then you start to worry about Shin Splints, then search on Google which tells you that you may have something severe like a stress fracture!
Don’t panic, these stretches can help with alleviating one of the causes of shin/lower leg pain. The muscle at the front of your shin is called Tibialis Anterior, which lifts your toes towards, and off the ground when you run, walk, climb upstairs or walk/run up hill.
As always, I highly recommend to book in with a Sports Injury Therapist to get an assessment and find the cause behind the symptoms. With lower limb injuries there can be many factors contributing towards your symptoms. Get it assessed before it gets worse!
Active Pin & Stretch Tibialis Anterior
This is a very easy stretch with no equipment needed…
- Take a seat and bring injured/painful leg up towards your chest.
- Interlock your fingers and lightly grasp the lower limb.
- While maintaining this position with the entire body, gently squeeze the palm of your hand onto the muscle at the front of your shin. In this video, I am stretching my L shin using the palm of my L hand to apply the pressure creating a lock.
- Make sure you apply less pressure with the other hand onto the bone.
- When the lock has been made, point your toes and feet up and down and in circular movements to create the stretch. You will feel a stretch just below the lock created by your palm and towards your foot.
- Once you’ve moved your foot for a few seconds and feel the stretch has decreased, release the lock from your palm and find either repeat or…
- Move your hands up and down the length of the muscle, or towards the side of the muscle to locate tighter areas to focus on.
- If you move your foot slower while the muscle is locked with your palms, you can lengthen the duration of the stretch.
Be careful with this stretch, if you feel pain while applying too much pressure, I strongly advise to seek professional advice.
Kneeling Foam Roller Tibialis Anterior
- Kneel down on your hands and knees for the best support during the stretch
- Place foam roller on the front & outside of the lower leg
- Slightly transfer your pelvis across to apply light pressure onto the lower leg that’s on the foam roller.
- When you have applied enough pressure onto the muscle, point feet up and down or rotate in circles to create a stretch
- Once you’ve stretched this area, move your lower leg on the foam roller to find another tight area to work on.
- Focus up and down the muscle, as well as out to the side
A couple of key points to think about with this stretch…
- Control the amount of body weight and pressure onto the foam roller, the more pressure you apply the more effective but painful the stretch is. For this area, you don’t want to put too much pressure on, there is a thick bone and thin bone very close to this area. It’s not a nice feeling to compress the muscle too much onto the bone, or foam roll a bone!
- Move your foot slower to create a stronger and longer lasting stretch
With all stretches, do not stretch to the point of pain, you will feel some discomfort, a strong stretch or relieving pain.
As always, you will reap the rewards if you regularly spend time working on prehab, rehab and flexibility if you train or compete frequently.