Shin Stretches for Your Anterior Tibialis

Stretch Your Anterior Tibialis to Prevent Shin Pain

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. It 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, 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

I like to 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, or simply use 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

    Not enough, you say? If you want to try more stretches for your shins, we have 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: Nobody told me in church that genuflecting was good for gently stretching the shins. Here is why and how to do it.
    • Lying Shin Stretch: This stretch is very similar to the lying quadriceps stretch. You are laying on your side, 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.

    If you have ongoing problems with shin splint pain, you may want to consider physical therapy for shin splints.

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