If you have tight shin muscles, pain, or if you’ve ever been diagnosed with “shin splints”, you may want to spend some time stretching your Tibialis Anterior muscle. It is located at the front of your lower leg, next to your shin bone. The Tibialis Anterior flexes the foot upwards, and controls the foot as it lowers back to the ground. This muscle gets a workout when we run, walk, and in sports such as tennis and basketball, which have a lot of little sprints. These muscles also play an important role in maintaining balance.
The Tibialis Anterior muscle can also get very tight in the summer when we wear flip flops. It feels good to lose the shoes and slip on something that leaves your feet cool and airy. Unfortunately flip flops are unstable. The mechanics of walking in flip flops causes your toes to curl under and grip the foot bed do you don’t go flying out of your shoes. After 10,000 step like this, you’re on the way to a repetitive strain injury.
Stretching the Tibialis Anterior muscle can help prevent lower leg pain and decrease exisiting pain. It can be difficult to feel a stretch in the shin muscle fully because of its anatomical arrangement. The sensation will be much less intense than other stretches you might regularly perform.
Standing Shin Stretch:
Begin standing with your hand on a wall or other support for balance.
Bend both knees slightly.
One foot remains squarely on the ground. The foot to be stretched is placed just behind with the tops of the toes and foot touching the ground.
Keeping your toe firmly on the ground, gently pull the stretch leg forward as if you were dragging the tops of the toes forward along the ground. You will feel a stretch from the top of your foot right through the shin.
Once you feel a good stretch, hold it for 30 seconds or 10 breaths.
Repeat the stretch with the other foot.
Seated Shin Stretch:
Sit comfortably at the front edge of a chair with your back striaight
With one foot firmly on the ground for support curl toes of the opposite foot under, and slide your foot backwards along the floor maintaining upright seated posture
Keeping toes firmly on the ground, gently pull the stretching foot forward so you feel a stretch from the top of your foot through your shins. As in the standing stretch but seated
Once you feel a good stretch, hold it for 30 seconds or 10 breaths
Repeat on the other side
NOTE: As with any stretch, if you feel any pain at any point please discontinue the stretch. This can cause damage to your muscles. First warm up with gentle ankle circles in both directions to increase the range of motion and to prepare the tissue. Make sure that the stretches are being held for no less than 30 seconds. It does take this long for muscle change to occur. Repeating 3 timees.
If you have any questions about this stretch feel free to contact me at TherapyLounge, or book an appointment