The 11 Best Shin Stretches For Runners

If you’re a runner, you’ve most likely felt pain or soreness in your shins at some point or another. Whether you’ve felt it when you first began to run, increased your volume a bit too quickly, or wore your running shoes for a few miles too many before replacing them, it’s probably happened. 

According to studies, shin issues are the second most common running injury after knee injuries. There are many ways that we can help prevent and treat shin pain; one of them is performing specific dynamic and static shin stretches for runners before and after our workouts. 

In this guide, we will go into detail about: 

  • Our Shins
  • What Shin Splints Are
  • How To Prevent Shin Splints 
  • Dynamic Shin Stretches For Runners
  • Tips For Stretching Properly 
  • The Best Shin Stretches For Runners

Ready? 

Let’s jump in! 

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a heel sit.

What Are Our Shins?

Our shins, or shinbones, are our tibias, the long bones that run down the front of our legs from our knees to our ankles. The tibia, the second largest bone in the human body, is one of the two bones in the lower leg, next to the fibula.

What Are Shin Splints?

Shin splints, or tibial stress syndrome, is a common overuse injury in runners and is caused by an excess of impact due to the repetitive motion of running. The muscles and connective tissues become overworked, causing discomfort, pain, or even small tears.

Symptoms of shin splints are:

  • Pain or soreness in the front of the lower leg or shinbone during or after exercise
  • Tenderness to the touch on the shinbone
  • Swelling in the lower leg
A runner holding his shin.

How To Prevent Shin Splints

Our shin stretches for runners will aid in helping prevent shin splints, but in addition, there are other measures you should take to stay healthy and strong to prevent this overuse injury. Let’s take a look at what they are: 

  • Warm up before your workouts with light jogging and dynamic stretching.
  • Cool down after your workouts with calf and shin stretches for runners. 
  • Work on your running form and posture to ensure you aren’t overstriding and putting excess impact on your body. This includes running with a short, quick cadence
  • Work up your mileage gradually, so you don’t overdo it by putting excess stress on your body from the get-go.
  • Buy properly fitting running shoes with adequate support for the sport. You can also use a shoe rotation to constantly change the impact on your feet and legs. Be sure and discard old running shoes, as running with an old pair can also lead to injury.
  • Improve your mobility with specific shin stretches for runners.
  • Add strength training to your workout plan. Strengthening your muscles will improve your running overall and prevent running-related injuries. Here is an example of an exercise you can add to your gym routine for shin health:

Calf Raises

A woman doing calf raises.
  1. Stand tall with your body aligned, your feet at hip-width apart, and your hands at your sides.
  2. Slowly lift yourself up onto the balls of your feet.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 15-20 repetitions, depending on your fitness level.

Note: After you have mastered bodyweight calf raises, you can add dumbbells to increase the difficulty.

If you are more of a beginner, you can perform calf raises from a seated position:

A woman doing seated calf raises.

It is possible that even though we try everything to prevent an injury, it can still plague us. So, if you do happen to get shin splints, be sure and take care of them. The last thing you want to do is ignore the pain and continue running, which will ultimately make them worse. To take care of your shin splits, you can:

  • Use the RICE method:
    • Rest from all activities that cause you pain and replace them with low or no-impact exercises such as swimming.
    • Ice your shins for 15 minutes 3-4 times per day.
    • Compression: Use compression socks to help decrease swelling.
    • Elevation: Elevate your legs; you can do this while icing them to help reduce inflammation.
  • Stretch your calf muscles 

If your shin splints do not go away after trying these home remedies, it is vital to consult a medical professional. If left untreated, shin splints could lead to more severe injuries such as stress fractures

Now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for, our dynamic and static shin stretches for runners.

To start out, you can warm up with some dynamic calf and shin stretches for runners: 

Dynamic Shin Stretches For Runners

#1: Heel Rolls

The 11 Best Shin Stretches For Runners 1
  1. Stand tall with your body aligned, your feet at hip-width apart, and your hands at your sides.
  2. Lean forward and press up on your toes until you are on your tiptoes.
  3. Rock back and put your weight back on your heels.
  4. Continue this movement for 30 seconds.

#2: Toe Walks

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing toe walks.
  1. Stand tall with your body aligned, your feet at hip-width apart, and your hands at your sides.
  2. Push yourself up on your tiptoes, stretching your calf muscles.
  3. Walk forward and backward on the balls of your feet.
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds

#3 Heel Walks

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a heel walks.
  1. Stand tall with your body aligned, your feet at hip-width apart, and your hands at your sides.
  2. While keeping your balance, lean back onto your heels. 
  3. Walk forward, staying on your heels. 
  4. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Remember, dynamic stretching is stretching in movement that is performed before your workouts to warm up properly. We will now look at tips for static stretching or stretching that you hold for a prolonged time. This type of stretching takes place after your runs and workouts. 

Tips For Static Stretching 

  • Hold each stretch between 45 – and 60 seconds to reap optimal benefits. 
  • Try to relax your muscles while holding the stretch.
  • Breath deeply while you stretch. With each exhale, you can try to gently stretch the muscle a tad more. 
  • Stretch your muscles gently. You should feel mild tension but not pain. If you feel pain, let up on the stretch or stop altogether. 

Now that we have reviewed how to stretch correctly let’s look at the following shin stretches for runners that you can add to your post-run routine.

Shin Stretches For Runners

#4: Heel Sits

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a heel sit.
  1. Start in a kneeling position with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Sit back as far as you can go until you feel a stretch. To deepen the stretch, if possible, sit back on your heels.
  3. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.

#5: Heel Sit with Backward Lean

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a heel sit with a lean.

This one is similar to the previous one but can deepen the stretch even further if you are flexible enough. 

  1. Start in a kneeling position with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. 
  2. Sit back on your heels.
  3. Gently lift your knees off the floor as you lean back for a deeper stretch.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.

#6: Heel Sit with Active Toes

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a heel sit with splayed toes.
  1. Start in a kneeling position with your toes stretched out under you, holding you up.
  2. Sit back as far as you can go until you feel a stretch. To deepen the stretch, if possible, sit back on your heels.
  3. To deepen the stretch, even more, take your hands off the floor and place them on your thighs.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.

#7: Low Lunge Ankle Stretch

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a low lunge ankle stretch.

This stretch can be used to improve your ankle mobility. It can be done as a dynamic or static stretch. If you are going to use it as a dynamic stretch, before you work out, stretch in movement, only holding the position for a second or two. 

  1. Start in a low lunge position with your right knee and left foot on the floor, both knees bent at 90 degrees. 
  2. Bring your left knee forward as you work your ankle’s mobility and feel the stretch in your calf. 
  3. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  4. Repeat on the other leg.

#8: Standing Shin Stretch

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a standing shin stretch.
  1. Stand tall and slightly bend your knees. 
  2. Keeping your left foot planted on the ground, lift your right foot, point your toes, and gently rest your curled right toes on the floor. 
  3. Keep your toes on the ground, lean slightly forward and feel the stretch in your right shin.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other leg. 

#9: Seated Shin Stretch

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a seated shin stretch.

This stretch is similar to the last standing shin stretch but from a seated position. Being seated makes this shin stretch easy to do anywhere, even at your desk at work! 

  1. Sit up straight on a chair or plyometrics box. 
  2. Ensure your feet are aligned below your knees. 
  3. Point the toes of your right foot and gently place your curled toes onto the ground.
  4. Draw your right knee slightly forward to feel your shin stretch. 
  5. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  6. Repeat on the other leg.

#10: Seated Ankle Mobility Shin Stretch

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a seated ankle mobility shin stretch.
  1. Sit tall in a chair or plyometrics box, ensuring your ankles and knees are aligned.
  2. Take your right ankle and place it on your left knee. 
  3. Take hold of your right foot and bend your toes, stretching your shin.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

#11: Lying Down Shin Stretch

Shin stretches for runners: a woman doing a lying down shin stretch.
  1. On the floor, lie on your side.
  2. Bend your lower leg back and take hold of your foot.
  3. Gently pull your foot back, keeping your toes pointed. 
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds. 
  5. Switch sides and repeat on the other leg.

To avoid shin splints, you also want to ensure you stretch your calf muscles out thoroughly. We have dedicated a whole other article to calves, where you can come away with plenty of calf stretches for runners, which will assist you with your shin health. 

Check it out! 

Calf Stretches For Runners 

A physical therapist stretching a runner.
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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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