Shin Stretches for Your Anterior Tibialis

Targeting Your Shins

Anterior Tibialis Standing Stretch
Anterior Tibialis Standing Stretch. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If you have tight shin muscles or pain, you may want to spend some time stretching your anterior tibialis muscle. This muscle is at the front of your lower leg. Its action is to flex the foot upwards, as well as to control the foot as it lowers back to the ground. This muscle mostly gets a workout when running, walking, and in sports such as tennis and basketball, which have a lot of little sprints.

The anterior tibialis will begin complaining if you suddenly increase your amount of time or speed of running or walking, often to the point of painful shin splints.

It can be difficult to stretch the shin muscle fully because of its anatomical arrangement. The standing stretch is an easy one for most people to do. You don't need any equipment or even any space; it is done with a simple move.

Standing Anterior Tibialis Shin Stretch

You might call this the toe drag stretch.

  • Stand up. You may want to use a 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 this stable foot, with the toe of the stretching foot touching the ground.
  • Keeping your toe firmly on the ground, pull the stretching leg forward so you feel a stretch from the top of your stretching foot through your shins.
  • Once you feel a good stretch, hold it for 15-30 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch with the other foot.
  • You can use this stretch as part of a warm-up stretching routine, or as part of a cool-down. You can also simply do it at any time during the day.

Variation: Seated Shin Stretch

You don't even have to get out of your desk chair for this variation of the anterior tibialis shin stretch.

This one works best with a desk chair where you can maneuver your leg under and behind you while seated.

  • Drop your knee towards the ground so the toe of your foot is extended into the ground as in the standing stretch.
  • Gently pull forward while the toe is planted in the ground, similar to the standing stretch but seated.
  • Hold for 15-20 seconds.
  • Repeat for each foot.
  • You may want to do this stretch several times each day.

Shin Stretch Variations

If you want to try more stretches for your shins, there are several more variations. It can be good to stretch and strengthen your muscles in different ways.

  • Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome Shin Splint Exercises: If you have nagging shin splint pain, this set of nine exercises will target not only the anterior tibialis but will also work on your calves, foot, and ankle flexibility. It's a good program of stretches and strengthening exercises to help prevent shin splints.
  • Kneeling Shin Stretch: Kneeling isn't just for church, you can also use it for gently stretching the shins. By kneeling on a mat with the tops of your feet flat on the floor and your buttocks over your heels, you will give your shins a good stretch. Here are why and how to do it and other stretches for shin splints.
  • Lying Shin Stretch: This stretch is very similar to the lying quadriceps stretch. You are laying on your side with the knee bent on the upper leg so your foot is now behind your back. You reach back and grab your forefoot, pulling it to your back. If you move the knee backward at the same time, you are doing the lying quad stretch.

Physical Therapy for Ongoing Problems

If you have ongoing problems with shin splint pain, you may want to consider physical therapy for shin splints. A therapist will be able to give you a customized set of stretches and exercises designed to help your specific needs.

Your therapist may also explore taping methods. Ask your doctor or medical plan for a referral or look for sports therapists in your area.

A Word From Verywell

Tight shins and shin pain can keep you from fully enjoying running and other sports. Rest and recovery are the main forms of self-treatment. Ease back into your activities and be sure to warm-up before vigorous exercise.


Shin splints - self care. MedlinePlus NIH.