Three Exercises To Strengthen The Muscles In Your Shins

If you're developing shin splints after walking or running, then the muscles in your shins are probably not strong enough. By strengthening the muscles in your shins with these three simple exercises, you can prevent shin splints. Perform these exercises three to four times per week for best results.

Single-Legged Bridges

This exercise takes some coordination to perform, but it's great for strengthening your shins once you get the hang of it. Start by laying on the floor on your back. Your knees should be bent so that your feet are flat on the floor, and your arms should be out to your sides. Lift your hips and back side off the floor by contracting your core. Then, stretch one leg straight out in front of you. Hold this position for 10 seconds at first, and work up to holding it for 1 minute. Repeat the movement with the opposite leg.

Heel Steps and Drops

Find a staircase with railings to reduce your chances of falling while you perform this exercise. Step up onto a stair with your toes -- the rest of your foot should be hanging off the edge of the stair. Sink your weight into your heel, so it drops below the level of the stair. Then, rise as high as you can onto your toes. Step up to the next stair with the opposite foot, and then repeat the heel sinking and raising motion. Continue until you reach the top of the stairs.

Buddy Shin Stretches

The first part of this exercise stretches your shins, while the second part strengthens them. Sit on the floor with both legs stretched straight in front of you. Have a buddy press down on the tops of your feet, so the soles of your feet stretch towards the ground. You should feel stretching through your shins. Then, exert force against your buddy's hands, pressing against his or her hands with the tops of your feet. Keep this force up for 10-15 seconds. Do 10-12 repetitions of this stretching and strengthening exercise.

If you continue to suffer from shin splints in spite of performing these exercises, contact a physical therapist, such as those at Hand & Orthopedic Rehabilitation Specialists. He or she can evaluate your running or walking habits and determine if another factor is contributing to your pain. In some cases, weakness in other areas of the body, such as your hamstrings or glutes, may contribute to shin splints by altering the stride in such a way as to place excess pressure on the shins. Your physical therapist can determine if this is the case, and if so, give you advice for changing your exercise routine to solve the problem.