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5 Quick Exercises to Get Rid of Shin Splints for Runners

Running is a lifestyle with challenges like shin splints. But with rest and exercises, you can beat them! Here are 5 to get you back on track.

Understanding Shin Splints

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are a common injury among runners and other athletes. They result from repetitive stress and impact on the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower leg. Symptoms can range from dull aching, to a sharp or razor-like pain, which typically occurs along the inside edge of your tibia (shin bone).

The major causes of shin splints include:

  • Overpronation or flat feet that lead to foot arch collapse
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces
  • Worn-out or inappropriate footwear
  • Increasing the intensity of training too quickly

The pain might be intense enough to sideline you, but a disciplined and strategic approach to exercises can significantly reduce the impact of shin splints.

Exercise 1: Calf Raises

Calf raises are simple yet powerful exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding your shin bones. This helps to stabilize and support your lower legs against the impact of running.

How to do it:

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  1. Lift your heels off the ground gradually, coming up onto the balls of your feet.
  1. Hold the raised position for a moment, feeling the tension in your calves.
  1. Lower your heels back down with control.

Repeat this 15-20 times for 3 sets.

The goal is not to overdo it but to do it regularly, to gradually strengthen your calf muscles and provide a protective layer against shin splints.

Exercise 2: Toe Taps

Toe taps are fantastic for increasing the strength and flexibility of your shins, which can help to prevent and treat shin splints. They also promote better balance and control during your runs.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a chair or bench with your back straight and feet flat on the ground.
  1. Keeping your feet together, lift the toes to tap them on the floor rapidly.
  1. Aim for 100 taps in quick succession, rest, and repeat for a total of 3 sets.

This exercise is particularly beneficial for runners transitioning from injury back to regular training, as it is a low-impact way to regain strength.

Exercise 3: Ankle Circles

Although they may seem like a warm-up routine, regular ankle circles add a surprising amount of support to your lower legs. They enhance flexibility, which is crucial for injury prevention.

How to do it:

  1. Sit down in a comfortable position with your legs stretched out in front.
  1. Lift one leg up and slowly rotate your ankle in a circle, focusing on the stretch in both directions.
  1. Do 10 circles in one direction, then 10 in the other.
  1. Switch legs and repeat.

You can do this series multiple times throughout the day, especially when you’ve been sitting for extended periods to keep the blood flowing and prevent stiffness.

Exercise 4: Heel Walks

Heel walks are a part of the discerning runner’s arsenal, and an excellent way to build strength in the shins and reduce risk factors for shin splints. This is because they put little pressure on the ball of the foot, diverting the effort to the tibialis anterior muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Standing up straight, rise onto the ball of your feet.
  1. Begin walking forward, leading with the heel and keeping the toes pointing upward.
  1. It may feel awkward at first, but that’s a sign these underused muscles are getting to work!
  1. Aim for several rounds of this, walking for at least 1 minute at a time.

Heel walks make for a great warm-up or cool-down activity before or after your runs. Remember, consistency beats out intensity in the long run.

Exercise 5: Shin Stretch

The importance of stretching your shins cannot be overstated. Tight shins can lead to a host of running-related injuries, including shin splints, and proper stretching is often the first step in recovery.

How to do it:

  1. Begin by kneeling on the ground with your toes pointed back and the tops of your feet flat.
  1. Sit back on your heels, or if that’s too intense, lean back onto your hands for support.
  1. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, feeling a gentle pull along the shins.

Doing this stretch as part of your regular post-run routine can provide significant relief from shin splints and improve your overall running performance.


Shin splints are a common obstacle for runners, but can be overcome. Try these five exercises to strengthen shin muscles, speed up recovery, and prevent future issues. Consistency is key – establish a routine and stick to it for stronger, resilient running.


Shamaine Physiophyx PT

Dr. Sharmaine Longsworth

DPT, CIDN, Owner and Founder of Physiophyx PT

"We Help People Get Rid of Pain & Injuries and Return to an Active Lifestyle Without Pain Meds, Injections, or Surgery."
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