Tibialis Anterior Muscle
Action – Dorsiflexion and inversion of the foot
– Dorsiflexion – pulling the foot upwards towards the knee
– Inversion – the foot moves towards the side of the big toe
Origin – anterior proximal tibia
Insertion – medial cuneiform and base of the first metatarsal (the same as peroneus longus)
Nerve – deep peroneal (fibular) nerve L4-S1
Tibialis anterior is located on the front part of the lower leg and is the main dorsiflexor of the foot. Together with peroneus longus, tibialis anterior forms the anatomical stirrup of the foot. They form a balance between inversion and eversion, plantarflexion and dorsiflexion.
It is easy to locate tibialis anterior when it contracts – find the upper half of your shin bone, then move your fingers just to the outside of this and pull your toes upwards to feel it activate.
Tibialis anterior helps with walking, running, kicking a ball, anything that involves moving the leg or stabilising the ankle.
Dysfunction in the muscle can cause pain around the shin bone, in the front of the ankle or the big toe. Shin splints are an overuse injury that can involve inflammation and pain in tibialis anterior. Damage to the nerve supply to the muscle can result in what is known as ‘foot drop’ where the front of the foot is unable to be lifted up.
It’s not too often that this muscle has issues. Hyper extending the ankle, stubbing your toe or tripping on something can cause this muscle to tense up and become protective. If this happens here are some ways to Strengthen, Stretch and Self Massage the area.
Tie a resistance band to a sturdy object. Sit on a chair with your leg out straight in front of you, heel on the ground. Place your foot in a loop at the other end of the band, then pull your foot towards your knee (dorsiflex) against the resistance of the band, stretching the band using only your foot. Hold for 2-3 seconds then rest. Repeat 10-15 times.
Kneel with the top of your foot on the ground (toes pointed, foot plantarflexed). Sit back on your heels and feel the stretch in the front of your shin. The amount of stretch can be controlled by adjusting your bodyweight with your hands on the ground.
Sitting on a chair, bring your knee up towards your chest. Grab onto your shin with both hands. Using your fingers from both hands, put pressure on your tibilias anterior and strum across the muscle, side to side.
You can increase or decrease the amount of pressure by pulling your finger tips in towards you or relaxing your arms, respectively.
Work your way up and down the muscle. If the muscle is tight, it is common to feel a pain referral down the front of the shin and into the foot.
As always, consult your local Myotherapist to make sure the above techniques are suitable for your situation.
Contributors: Ben Lewis & Jesse Kingsbury