Pain in the front of your lower leg (shin) can happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include ankle joint stiffness or anterior tibialis muscle weakness.
The largest muscle at the front of your shin is the anterior tibialis muscle. This muscle helps point your foot up to the sky.
If this muscle is weak, when you start running it'll fatigue quickly due to the repetitive need to pull your foot up so you don't kick the ground and trip.
The second most common reason for ship pain is ankle joint stiffness. Ankle stiffness can happen after an injury or because of tight calf muscles. The ankle joint being stiff will require the anterior tibialis muscle to pull harder in order to bring the foot up, you can think of it like driving with the brakes on, you'll have to press the pedal harder to try to move the car.
To fix these problems you can stretch, mobilize, and strengthen the ankle.
It's a good idea to start by stretching your calves. Pictured above, we are stretching the left calf. Standing at a wall with your legs in a wide stance, push your heel down using your body weight and hold for 30-60 seconds, and repeat 3 times, then perform the stretch on the right side.
After stretching, perform some mobility exercises. Pictured above, you will be increasing the amount of motion you have in the dorsiflexion direction (foot pointing up to the sky). Start by kneeling at a wall with your foot pointing forward and about 6 inches away from the wall. Next, try to touch your knee to the wall slowly while keeping your heel down. You can add variability to this by veering to the right and left when touching your knee to the wall. Repeat 3 sets of 10 with each side.
Lastly, you want to strengthen your anterior tibialis muscle. Since this muscle helps to point your foot up toward your nose, we will be strengthening in that direction. Using a resistance band you can attach it to the foot of a chair or something that will not move, then you will point your foot up and down, as pictured above. You can perform 3 sets of 10 and repeat on each side.
If you don't have something sturdy to attach a resistance band, you can loop it around your other foot as pictured above. You can start by pointing your foot up and then pulling your knee to your chest. You can do this laying on your back, in a plank, or standing up against a wall. Again, you'll perform 3 sets of 10 and repeat on each side.
Adding these exercises into your routine exercises and performing them 3-5 times a week will improve your shin pain so you can walk and run without pain.
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