Please note, this article is written to expand a lay person’s knowledge of their body. The better you understand your body as an athlete, the better you will be able to look after it.
Intro to the muscle.
Put your hand on your tibia- that’s the bone that you can feel running down your lower leg- and then pull your foot up. The muscle bulging on the outside of the tibia is the tibialis anterior.
The muscle originates at the top portion of the tibia and runs down the outside of the leg. The tendon portion then crosses the lower part of the leg and attaches to the medial cuneiform and first metatarsal bones of the foot. The two bones mentioned lie on the inside of your foot, and are situated near the midpoint of the foot.
The muscle’s job is to dorsiflex and invert the foot. To simplify, it lifts the foot and turns the inner part/sole of the foot toward you.
What can go wrong?
Repetitive stress on the muscle can lead to inflammation.
Shin splints can also occur in this area. If left unattended, this can become extremely painful.
Infrequently, the muscle can get overworked, and become too large for the tissues surrounding it. This condition is known as compartment syndrome.
What to do if it gets injured.
Take part in low impact sports for a period of time, such as cycling or swimming.
Stretch the muscle.
Shin splints and general inflammation respond well to massage.
Compartment syndrome is less simple, and at times needs surgery.
Make sure that you are in the right shoes – excessive pronation and a lack of arch support can make the condition worse.
Runners who heel strike tend to overwork the area, as they over dorsiflex, or lift the foot. The physios at the Comrades up run will spend a lot of time looking after runners with aching tibialis anterior muscles, the up run forces the runner to lift the foot more due to the steep hills.
The muscle responds well to massage, especially when the muscle is both stretched and worked on at the same time. It is vital to free up areas on the tendon that do not move smoothly.
Runners do well to not overly lift the foot as the leg swings forward. This is one of the gait styles that we look for during our leg assessment.
How to stretch the muscle.
You can stretch the muscle while stretching your quads. The trick is the fold the foot by the toes and then pull the toes toward the body.
– Remember to warm up slowly
– Shoes with enough arch support are essential.
- People with high foot arches might have a shortened muscle, and do well in shoes with good arch support. The muscle should also be stretched regularly.
Swimmers should keep this muscle stretched as it will allow the foot to dissipate more water while kicking.
It is unusual to see a cyclist with problems here.
Give us a call if you feel that we can help with either our leg assessment program – http://sbrsport.me/2012/09/15/runners-leg-assessment/
or massage program.