Shin Stretches for Your Anterior Tibialis

Targeting Your Shins

Woman doing kneeling shin stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

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 and allows the foot to flex upwards and lower with control. This muscle mostly gets a workout when running, walking, and in sports such as tennis and basketball, which include frequent sprints.


The anterior tibialis will begin complaining if you suddenly increase your time or speed of running or walking, often to the point of painful shin splints. This is also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).


Watch Now: 4 Stretches to Help Tight Shins

Stretching the shin muscle fully can be difficult because of its anatomical arrangement. Some experts say you can't really stretch this muscle. You can give it some elongation, as your foot won't flex enough for a proper stretch.

Standing Anterior Tibialis Shin Stretch

Standing Anterior Tibialis Shin Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

You might call this the toe drag stretch.

  1. Stand up. You may want to use a hand on a wall or other support for balance.
  2. Bend both knees slightly.
  3. Plant one foot on the ground. Position your other foot just behind this stable foot, with the toe of the stretching foot touching the ground.
  4. Pull the stretching leg forward, keeping your toe firmly on the ground, so you feel a stretch from the top of your stretching foot through your shins.
  5. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat the stretch with the other foot.

You can use this stretch as a warm-up stretching routine or a cool-down. You can also do it at any time during the day.

Kneeling Shin Stretch

Kneeling Shin Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Kneeling can be used for gently stretching the shins. You must have good knee flexion to do this stretch, as you will be sitting on your heels. If it causes pain in your knees, skip it.

  1. Kneel on a mat with the tops of your feet flat on the floor and your buttocks over your heels.
  2. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.

Seated Shin Stretch

Seated Shin Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

You don't have to get out of your desk chair for this anterior tibialis shin stretch variation. This one works best with a desk chair where you can maneuver your leg under and behind you while seated.

  1. Drop your knee towards the ground, so the toe of your foot is extended into the ground as in the standing stretch.
  2. Pull forward gently while the toe is planted in the ground, similar to the standing stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat for each foot.

You may want to do this stretch several times each day.

Lying Shin Stretch

Lying Shin Stretch
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

This stretch is very similar to the lying quadriceps stretch. If you move the knee backward simultaneously, you also do the lying quad stretch (so you get two stretches in one).

  1. Lie on your side with the knee bent on the upper leg, so your foot is now behind your back.
  2. Reach back and grab your forefoot, pulling it to your back.
  3. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat for each foot.

Exercises for Shin Splint Relief

You can use a range of exercises to stretch and strengthen your calf and shin muscles in different ways. If you have nagging shin splint pain, this set of nine exercises will target the anterior tibialis and work on your calves, foot, and ankle flexibility. It's a good program of stretches and strengthening exercises to help prevent shin splints.

  • Seated ankle dorsiflexion and calf stretch
  • Bent knee ankle dorsiflexion and calf stretch
  • Toe walking
  • Heel walking
  • Standing ankle dorsiflexion stretch
  • Straight knee calf wall stretch
  • Bent knee calf wall stretch
  • Wall toe raises
  • Foot step holds

Other Prevention

There are a few measures to prevent shin splints or the worsening of existing ones. One is using orthotics. Because shin splints are common among those who run or walk on hard surfaces, reducing the amount of shock the body experiences can prevent shin splints from worsening.

In essence, shin splints are an overuse injury. Warming up before exercise and avoiding progressing too quickly in a new running routine are both ways to prevent shin splints.

Treating Shin Pain

Icing the shins is one way to treat the inflammation associated with shin splints. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like naproxen and ibuprofen are also ways to target inflammation and decrease pain.

Another pain relief method that is being studied is the use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, also known as TENS. TENS devices are used in various ways to reduce pain from musculoskeletal conditions. Research about its use in reducing pain from shin splints is ongoing.

Alternative Treatments

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

Kinesiology taping is a way to support the muscles and may help with shin splints. Taping also helps lift the skin, allowing increased blood flow and aiding in healing.

In one study, cupping, an ancient technique in which skin is suctioned into a cup providing a sustained stretch, impoves shin splints when done alongside physical therapy and stretching. However, more research needs to be done to determine the overall effectiveness of cupping for shin splints.

A Word From Verywell

Stretching your anterior tibialis muscles is important in preventing and treating MTSS, or shin splints. Doing this program of stretches and exercises as you increase your running or walking mileage is one smart way to prevent shin pain. If you do find yourself with shin pain, continue stretching and make sure to rest adequately. Consult a healthcare provider for other treatments.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Deshmukh NS, Phansopkar P. Medial tibial stress syndrome: a review article. Cureus. 14(7):e26641. doi:10.7759/cureus.26641

  2. Deshmukh NS, Phansopkar P, Wanjari MB. A novel physical therapy approach in pain management and enhancement of performance in shin splints athletes: a case report. Cureus. 2022 Jul; 14(7): e26676. doi:10.7759/cureus.26676

  3. Guo S, Liu P, Feng B, Xu Y, Wang Y. Efficacy of kinesiology taping on the management of shin splints: a systematic review. Phys Sportsmed. 2022;50(5):369-377. doi:10.1080/00913847.2021.1949253

Additional Reading

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.