The tibialis anterior muscle is important for walking and running. It is the muscle that bends your ankle up towards your face (dorsiflexion).
The tibialis anterior muscle is in the upper third of the leg, just to the outside of your shin bone (tibia). It has a long tendon that runs down your shin towards the inside of your foot. When this muscle contracts, it lifts up your foot towards your face. Because the muscle belly is short, it can be a hard muscle to foam roll. In general, foam rolling is much better for longer and larger muscles. I therefore usually give this muscle a self-massage or I’ve even had it acupunctured.
When you walk very quickly or run, tibialis anterior can get sore from the fast movement up and down of your ankle, or if you’re doing some uphill walking/running, you have to dorsiflex more because of the angle of the incline, and that can make it sore too. You can see a video of my foam rolling technique on my Instagram or Facebook. I’m a bit of a noob on here and haven’t figured out how I can upload a video to my blog yet… but below are a couple of screenshots from the video:
I hold my upper body in a low plank position and place my leg at a slight angle (because the tibialis muscle is slightly to the outside of the midline). I roll the muscle up and down whilst keeping my core squeezed tight and strong. By leaving the top leg extended, you are working your back muscles and gluteus maximus of that leg. By bringing both knees up, you work your abs more, in particular the obliques because you are at a slanted angle. Either way, this way of foam rolling is fantastic for both releasing the muscle as well as strengthening your core – I love this exercise!
If you haven’t tried this way of rolling, or haven’t heard of the tibialis anterior before, do give it a try. It will help with post-run conditioning. There are so many smaller muscles in running that get less attention. Most people know about hamstrings and quads, but two muscles that I really love to pay attention to are the tibialis anterior, and the tensor fascia lata, which I’ll dedicate a future post to!