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Strengthening the muscles of the lower leg can begin after the initial painful, inflamed phase has passed. Strengthening should be a gradual process and exercises should always be pain free.
The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any self treatment. The priority with shin splints exercises should be stretching, however if strengthening exercises can be done pain free then stronger muscles may help prevent shin splints in the future.
Toe raises are a good starting point when looking to strengthen the shin muscles. Start with only a few repetitions and gradually increase the numbers. The patient should be sat with both feet flat on the floor. Keeping the heel on the ground, the patient should lift the rest of the foot up as high as possible. Hold for a couple of seconds before slowly returning the foot back to the floor Repeat 10-20 times and increase to performing 2-3 sets. Less is more with this exercise, doing too much too soon can make symptoms worse.
To strengthen all of the lower leg muscles, perform calf raises. These can initially be performed both legs together before being progressed to single leg only. Stand with the feet shoulder width apart and knees straight holding onto a wall or similar for balance. Lift the heels off the floor as high as possible and slowly return to the floor. This can be progressed even further by standing on a step with the heel off the back and lower the heel down past the level of the step.
Dorsiflexion is the ankle movement where the toes are pointed towards the ceiling. To progress in strengthening the shin muscles resistance can be used in the form of either pressure from a partner or a resistance band. The patient sits on the floor with the resistance band looped around the toes and held at a fixed point on the floor in front. They then dorsi flex the ankle against the resistance of the band.
The patient walks with exaggerated ankle movements from the heel raising up high on the toes. A variation of this is to walk the length of a room either on the toes or on the heels will help to strengthen the calf and shin muscles respectively. Make sure you do this slowly and under complete control.