My name is Casey Alger-Feser and I am one of the Personal Trainers here at Western Racquet. Today I would like to take this opportunity to talk about a muscle that seldomly gets any isolation work even though it plays a large role in many physical activities and our daily life - the Anterior Tibialis is a muscle that sits along the lateral area of the tibia. In other words, to the right of the shin bone on the right leg and to the left of the shin bone on the left leg.
You can feel this muscle activate by simply trying to “touch your shin with your toes”. The technical term for that movement is called dorsiflexion, which is one of two functions of this muscle. The other function is called inversion. Again, the technical description for this is to move the sole of the foot towards the medial plane, but you can think of it like rolling the outside of your ankle. When you try these movements you can see how important these muscles really are. They help when you are running or walking by stabilizing the ankle when your foot hits the ground. It essentially helps decelerate your foot which means it's used every time you walk. It is especially valuable when you are landing from a jump in a sport or making other explosive moves like slowing down after a sprint. They will also help lift your foot off the ground as you walk, as well as “locking” the ankle if you were about to kick a ball with your toe.
My guess is most people do not know what this muscle does or why we need to strengthen it and that is why you will rarely see people working on them specifically. As I mentioned earlier I think this is a great opportunity to not only learn about what the tibialis does, but how we can make it stronger. I have personally added tibialis toe raises to my routine over the last few months and have seen an increase in lower leg stability as well as a reduction in knee pain as a result.
To perform a tibialis raise you want to start with your butt against a wall and put your feet about 1-2 feet in front of you. Without bending your knees you want to utilize the dorsiflexion we talked about by lifting your toes off the ground as high as you can. If it is too challenging to complete 15-25 slow and controlled reps, you can move your feet back slightly to ease the movement. If you find it is too easy to complete the reps just do the opposite and move your feet further from the wall. If you have thick soles to your shoes you can always take them off and try this exercise barefoot, this will also make the move a little easier. If you have never worked on the tibialis before you could start with 1 or 2 sets of 10 to 15 reps to gauge how it feels. These numbers can increase over time as you start to feel stronger and more confident. 2 sets of 25 reps would be a great goal to shoot for. Remember, if you can do these numbers at 1 or 2 feet away from the wall, you want to continue to move your feet away to make it more challenging.
Watch this video for a visual of how to complete this exercise.
I learned a large portion of this information from an awesome coach named Ben Patrick. You can find him on Instagram @kneesovertoesguy. He has a ton of great info relating to this topic along with ways to come back from chronic knee pain or other knee-related issues.