Tibialis Anterior Pain When Running? Causes, Tendonitis & More
Tibialis Anterior pain when running is becoming more common within runners. The Tibialis Anterior plays an important part in your foot strike. With each landing, it is responsible for lifting your foot up during the swing phase of your gait. It is also responsible for absorbing much of the force when your feet contact the ground.
If this muscle is weak it can often cause shin pain (shin splints), a weak arch, and many other small injuries. Then if left untreated can develop into a more serious injury.
So in this article we discuss:
What is the Tibialis Anterior
Causes of Tibialis Anterior Pain When Running?
Tibialis Anterior Stretches & Exercises
Tibialis Pain When Walking & What it Means
Symptoms & Recovery of Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis
So if you are struggling with this injury when running, continue reading to learn more about the pain associated with the Tibialis Anterior.
What is the Tibialis Anterior?
The Tibialis anterior or commonly known as Tibialis anticus is located on the outer side of the tibia.
Some of the functions of the Tibialis anterior are:
– Primary dorsiflexor of the ankle
– Inversion of the foot ( a movement where the bottom of the feet cafe inwards).
– Adduction of the foot ( a movement where your foot moves towards the body).
– Help maintains the medial arch of the foot
– Helps to slow down plantarflexion and pronation
– Helps with postural adjustment during your running gait
As you can see above, many of the movements the tibialis contribute to are used when running. So, it is not surprising many people get Tibialis Anterior pain when running.
But what causes Tibialis Anterior pain when running, and what exercises or stretching can you do to limit the discomfort. Continue reading to find out more.
What Causes Tibialis Anterior Pain When Running?
Since the main function of the Tibialis is to dorsiflex the ankle, which means lifting your foot upwards towards the knee. You already know that it plays a huge part in running.
Like many other tendon injuries, it is common to feel a dull aching pain. This is usually located along the front of the shin, specifically in the lower shin and front of the ankle.
For most people, the pain will often fade away as you run. However, if the pain worsens expect to experience tibialis anterior pain during night-time and not just when running or walking.
So, what causes Tibialis Anterior pain when running? And why does it tend to fade away as you run?
Generally, the most common cause is repetitive strain. Since your feet are constantly hitting the pavement every handful of seconds, it’s not uncommon that this tendon gets overworked.
When the Tibialis Anterior gets overworked it is prone to developing micro-tears, inflammation, and general pain.
While repetitive stress is the most common cause, there are some others that can play a role. These include:
– Shoes with bad arch and heel support
– Shoes with poor shock-absorbing soles
– Repetitive running on hard surfaces
– Lack of strength in the shin muscles and ankles.
– Heel striking
– Poor running technique
Tibialis Anterior Stretch & Exercises
To help you get back to running after dealing with a Tibialis Anterior injury, you should perform a variety of stretches and exercises. Doing both will help speed up your recovery as well as strengthen some of the surrounding muscles.
Best Tibialis Anterior Stretch
To stretch the tibialis anterior muscle in your shin, you should start by standing up straight. Then bend both knees 20-30 degrees. Followed by curling one foot while the other stays planted to the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch over to the other foot.
The kneeling stretch
To perform the kneeling stretch, start by kneeling on a yoga mat.
Make sure the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. Then lean back slightly to stretch the shin area more. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds, and then repeat 5-6 times. This stretch is ideal before running or any other physical activity.
Best Exercises For Strengthening the Tibialis
Below are two of the best exercises you can do to strengthen the Tibialis and shin area.
Seated elastic band exercise
The seated elastic band exercise requires you to have access to an elastic resistance band. These are generally found in most gyms or sports stores. To perform the exercise, start by sitting on the floor with your leg extended out in front of you. Alternatively, you can sit on a bench or chair, using something else to prop up your leg.
Tie the band around your foot and then to something stable, like a chair, table leg, or door handle.
Once you are positioned correctly, pull your toes and foot up while making sure your leg is held straight without any bending of the knee. You should pull your foot as far up as possible towards the shins. Once you have reached as far as you can go, hold for 3-4 seconds and then release back to the starting position.
Perform these exercises 15-30 times or until your muscle becomes tired and flexing your ankle becomes difficult.
Cuff Weight Exercise
Another one of the best exercises for shin strength is the cuff weight exercise. This exercise requires two small ankle weights or padded weights which are wrapped around your foot or ankle.
to perform this exercise start by sitting in a chair. Wrap the padded weights around your feet and place your feet flat on the ground.
Begin by moving your foot and toes towards the shins. Do these without moving your heel from the floor. Once all the way up, how for 3-4 seconds before releasing back to the starting position. This exercise can be done 10-15 times or until you can no longer lift the toes up.
Tibialis Anterior Pain When Walking – What Does This Mean?
If you are experiencing tibialis anterior Pain when walking, you should more than likely not run. Walking and feeling pain is a sure sign that running will cause more harm than good.
Until the pain starts to reside, try replacing running with swimming or cycling. Both will help reduce the amount of stress on the shins. Also try book in for a deep tissue massage as it will help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation and help loosen up the surrounding muscles.
Alternatively, try changing your walking shoes into something with more cushioning and support. Also move into something light, which will make lifting your foot much less stressful on the shin muscles.
Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis – Symptoms & Recovery
For some runners, ignoring the pain and continuing to run is the option they take. This is unfortunately where tibialis anterior tendonitis can start to develop.
Unfortunately, this is much worse than just discomfort in the shins or inflammation. It can often put you out of running for weeks, if not months.
Tendonitis in this area is often caused by overuse or by tightening your shoelaces too tight over the tibialis anterior tendon.
If this is the case, the best form of recovery is to:
– Rest your foot
– Regular icing and massage
– Avoid barefoot walking
– Anti-inflammatory drugs
– Orthotics to relieve pressure
In worse cases, you may need to use an ankle brace. Using an ankle brace will help immobilize the ankle and prevent any movement of the tendon and muscle while it recovers.