What is anterior tibialis muscle pain or shin splints?

Do you have muscle pain in the front of your lower leg during running? This is the pain of the anterior tibialis muscle, commonly known as shin splints. The anterior tibialis muscle is located outside the front of the shin bone (tibia) and its contraction lifts the foot up and turning it inward. The excessive internal rotation of the lower legs coupled with structural deviations of the foot (such as pronated feet or flat feet) increases the strain of the anterior tibialis muscle. The pain can be exacerbated by excessive exercises and muscle tightness.

Causes

  • Excessive rotation of the lower leg coupled with abnormal foot biomechanics (e.g. flat feet, pronated feet, high arched feet) exerts continuous stress over tibialis anterior muscle
  • Excessive laxity of the foot particularly the ankle and subtalar joints demands the leg muscles extra workloads to stabilize the foot during walking and standing
  • The tightness of the calf muscles (i.e. gastrocnemius and soleus) demands extra loading on the tibialis anterior muscles to counteract the backward tilting of the lower leg and to lift the foot (dorsiflexion) clear from the ground at the swinging phase of the gait
  • During exercises, the increased rate of foot pronation (i.e. the arch flattening) could usually result in greater speed of internal rotation of the lower leg, which predisposes the tibialis anterior to sprain injury
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Symptoms

  • Pain outside the front of the shin bone (i.e. tibia)
  • Pain often after exercises, in severe cases pain may persist with swelling

Treatment Options

  1. Proper footwear : Select sports shoes having firm counter to provide adequate heel support and, in turn, reduce and control the rate foot pronation (i.e. foot arch flattening) during sporting
  2. Stretching exercises:For tightened calf-Achilles complex, regular stretching could alleviate the symptoms
  3. Custom foot orthoses :To be prescribed after evaluation the abnormality of the foot biomechanics by Pedorthists