Shin splits are a common problem for many athletes. According to the Sports Injury Clinic, the term shin splints is often used to refer to any type of pain felt in your lower leg. However, true shin splints occur in the front of your shin bone, usually due to inflammation. Shin splints can cause pain, swelling, redness and sometimes lumps or bumps. Although shin splits mainly occur due to biomechanical issues such as improper stepping or running on pavement, properly warming up and stretching prior to your workout may help prevent them from occurring.
According to the Sports Injury Clinic, stretching your gastrocnemius muscle, the largest muscle in your calf, may help prevent shin splints. Stand facing a wall and step one foot in front of the other. Place your hands on the wall and lean forward, keeping the heel of your back foot flat on the floor. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds, then release and repeat this on your other leg.
Standing Toe-Up Achilles Stretch
The standing toe-up Achilles stretch is an effective stretch for preventing and treating shin splints, according to the Stretching Institute. Stand with one foot on a step and your other foot flat on the ground. Move your front foot backward so that just the ball of your foot is resting on the step. Place your hands on your hips for balance, bend your front knee and lean slightly forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then release and repeat this on the other foot.
The kneeling stretch helps to stretch and lengthen the front of your lower leg. Kneel on the floor and place a rolled-up towel under your feet. Lower your buttocks down to rest on your calves until you feel a gentle stretch along the front of your lower legs. Rest your hands on your thighs. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, providing that you do not experience pain or strain.
Heel step-downs are an effective exercise for preventing shin splints, according to Northstar Soccer. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot forward and only touch your heel to the ground. Keep the ball of your foot about 1 inch off the floor. Return your foot back to your starting position. Perform 15 repetitions of this exercise on each foot.
This exercise requires the use of a Thera-Band, which you can purchase in most sporting goods stores. Sit on the floor with your legs about hip-width apart. Loop the end of the Thera-Band around the ball of your foot. Hold both ends of the Thera-Band in your hands. Flex your foot and rotate your ankle in a clockwise direction and then in a counterclockwise direction. Perform 15 rotations in each direction.