5 Amazing Foam Roller Exercises for Shin Splints

  • Single Leg Outer Shin Splints Foam Roll
  • Double Leg Outer Shin Splints Foam Roll
  • Single-Leg Inner Shin Splints Foam Roll
  • Single Leg Inner Calf Foam Roll
  • Single Leg Outer Calf Foam Roll

A foam roller on shin splints works! Shin splints suck. I used to get them every fall after a summer hiatus of running. Then, I learned a few things about why I was getting them. I knew shin splints were caused by inflammation of the connective tissue between the calf muscle and the shin bone. But, I didn’t know how to keep them from developing. Shin splints are painful, but they are not serious problem. Disclaimer: That being said, I am not a doctor, so if you have prolonged pain or you think it’s something more serious like a stress fracture, go and see a health care professional!

Back to the things I learned about why I was getting shin splints in the first place. I was simply putting too many miles in too soon. Going from not exercising, to a full on regimen of 40 miles per week. I was also not appropriately cross training and weight training. I wasn’t using a foam roller, and I definitely wasn’t eating the stuff I should have been eating.

In this article, you will learn how to:

  • Perform foam roller exercises that will help prevent and rehabilitate your shin splints.
  • Do active and static stretches that help alleviate shin splints.
  • Use ice
  • Strengthen your shins and calves
  • Eat Anti-inflammatory foods
  • Get the right shoes
  • Perform the best running movement to prevent shin splints

Foam Roller Shin Splints Exercises

If you currently are experiencing shin splints or you want to prevent them from occurring, here are a few movements on the foam roller that will help. I use a foam roller like this one

Single Leg Outer Foam Roller Shin Splints Movement

  • Place roller horizontally on the floor and perpendicular to your leg
  • kneel upon the foam roller
  • place hands above the roller into a stable position to support your upper body
  • place one outer shin upon the foam roller
  • roll your body forward as the foam roller rolls along your shin from knee to just above the ankle
  • slowly glide the roller up and down your shin for about 1 minute
  • Repeat on the the other leg
  • perform this no more than every other day and not more than three times per week.

Double Leg Outer Foam Roller Shin Splints Movement

  • Put the foam roller on the floor in a position so that it will roll up and down your body
  • Place your hands on the floor well above the foam roller
  • The foam roller should be vertically alligned with your hips
  • Place both shins on the foam roller.
  • Your body will be suspended above the foam roller
  • Roll your knees forward as the roller rolls along your shins
  • Do this from just below the knees to just above the ankles
  • Repeat slowly for up to 90 seconds

Single Leg Inner Shin Splint Foam Roll

  • Position the foam roller so that it is perpendicular to your shin
  • Place hands above the foam roller on the floor
  • Place 1 shin on the foam roller
  • Position the other leg straight behind you so as to support your lower body as you roll along the foam roller
  • Begin rolling the foam roller up and down your outer shin slowly
  • Continue this motion from just below your knee to just above your ankle
  • Do this for no more than 2 minutes
  • Repeat on the next leg

One Leg Inner Calf Foam Roll

  • Place foam roller perpendicular to your calf muscle
  • Lay flat on the ground with the foam roller placed under one leg
  • The other leg lay flat on the floor
  • Position you hands on the floor near your hips
  • Sit up at about a 70 degree angle
  • Slightly twist your legs at about 45 degrees so that your inner calf is touching the foam roller
  • Lift buttocks and upper body off of the floor
  • Allow most of the pressure to be placed inner calf
  • The other leg can be used to stabilize your movement
  • Now, begin to roll the foam roller along the interior section of your calf
  • Continue from just above your Achilles tendon to just below your knee
  • Do this motion slowly for no more than 3 minutes
  • **If you would like to apply more pressure to the calf muscle, place your other leg on top of the calf that you are concentrating on**

Single Leg Outer Calf Foam Roll for Shin Splints

  • **Same instructions as the inner calf foam roll. Just change the positioning of your calf to the outer calf instead of the inner calf.*
How To Foam Roll Like a Pro

From Visually.

Do Active & Static Stretches for Shin Splints

Doing active and passive stretching will help prevent and rehabilitate shin splints. I will show you 2 active stretches that I do after each run.

Active Stretches for Shin Splints

Foam Roller Shin Splints - Duck Walk

Duck Walking – Pretend that you are walking like a duck. You’re toes will be pointed inward toward one another. Exaggerate how far your feet curve inward. Take tiny steps for about 100 steps. This will stretch the outer shin muscles and fascia.

  • Walk with legs completely straightened
  • Twist feet inward until you cannot turn them any further inward
  • Walk in slow deliberate steps
  • As you walk, cross one foot over the next so that you maintain your balance
  • Continue this for about 100 to 150 steps
foam roller shin splints - penguin walking

Penguin Walking
Imagine you are waddling like a penguin through the snow. Point your toes outward and your heals inward nearly touching one another. Again, exaggerate how much your feet can turn outward. All you need are about 90 steps or so. This will stretch the inner shin muscles, calf muscles and fascia.

  • Turn feet outward on a flat surface.
  • Pretend you are a ballerina with her toes pointed out as far away from one another as they possibly can be.
  • Walk heel over heel for about 90 steps
  • Keep your steps close to one another

Static Stretches for Shin Splints

The static stretches that I use to prevent and rehabilitate shin splints are very simple. There are 2 that I do. One of the stretches is already incorporated in a single leg wall stretch that I do to stretch my hip-flexor and quads. The idea is basically get into any position that will lengthen your outer shin area. Pointing your toes downward, applying pressure on the forefoot, and holding for 50 seconds or so is all that it takes. Here are the other stretch that I perform.

Foam Roller Shin Splints - Calf Stretch

Straight single leg wall/floor stretch – As depicted in the picture above, this is basic calf stretch. You want to place your hands on the floor or ground with both legs straight but one leg in front of the other. If you wish to do it upon a wall, bend the front leg and keep the rear leg straight. Press your hands against the wall at about a 45 degree angle in line with your rear leg. Be sure you feel either stretch in the calf and Achilles. Hold this stretch for 50-60 seconds.

By stretching out the calf muscle and the outer shin muscles, you help to increase blood flow and elasticity in the tissues surrounding the shin.

ICE

Use ice often! There is always a debate about how much and how long you should stay in ice water or place ice upon a sore area. But, the general rule is 15 minutes.

For prevention of shin splints, place ice on shins after a workout. Definitely, take an ice bath after your workout, not before your workout.

If you are aiming to rehabilitate your shins, do them before and after your workout.

Strengthen Shin and Calf Muscles

Foam Roller Shin Splints - Leg Exercises

The majority of problems on our bodies come down to training. If we over use a muscle group too intensely and too quickly, then we increase the risk of complications. The same is true for the shins. If you start or restart a repetitive exercise like running or jumping, then you have a potential of over using your muscles.

Cross training to help strengthen and mobilize the muscles that you use to perform a running motion will help prevent shin splints. Here a few that will help.

  • Weighted calf raises
  • Stair step calf raises
  • Stretch band calf pushes
  • Stretch band ankle and foot exercises
  • Box jumps

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Shin splint pain is caused by inflamed tissue beginning to tear away from the shin bone. When you eat foods that help you reduce inflammation, then your body will feel less pain caused by inflammation. Here is a list of a few more foods that you can eat that will help ease your shin splint pain.

Good Shoes are Better Than a Foam Roller for Shin Splints

Foam Roller Shin Splints - Good Shoes

Don’t listen to all the things you hear about running shoes. Bad shoes will mess up your form and affect how your muscles activate while running. This can be another stressor that causes shin splint.

For thousands of years our bodies have adapted to running in not much on our feet. A Harvard study about 10 years ago showed that old broken down running shoes are better at preventing injuries than new running shoes. So don’t throw away your shoes after 6 months. That is when they start getting good!

Also, try to get neutral running shoes. 90% or more of runners have normal feet. Next, don’t get all the bells and whistles with your running shoes. Finally, get shoes that have even and limited cushioning front to back.

Always remember to land on your mid foot, not your heel. In the end, this will drastically increase the ability of your shins to adjust to the pressure they will be under while running.

Finally, foam roller shin splints exercises are not all you need to do to prevent and rehabilitate you pains. Incorporating all of these practices will help you run and exercise more freely and with joy.

If you are having trouble with mobilizing or stretching out your pecs, this article will teach you how to use a foam roller to get your chest opening up more moving smoothly.

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