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The legs are crucial for many individuals to move, jump, run, walk, and stand in various locations. The legs involve the thighs, hips, and knees as they work together to provide support and a range of movements for the body. For athletes, the legs allow them to run from one obstacle to another and kick the object to finish the game they are participating. Many individuals require strong leg muscles to keep the body balanced and stabilized from the upper body’s weight. One leg muscle that allows the body to be stabilized is the anterior tibialis muscle. When the legs suffer from various sports injuries or injuries in general, it can lead to issues like shin splints correlated with trigger points that can cause pain to the lower portion of the legs and can affect the body’s stability. Today’s article examines the anterior tibialis muscles, how shin splints are associated with myofascial trigger points, and various methods to treat shin splints. We refer patients to certified providers that incorporate various techniques in the lower body extremities, like lower leg pain therapies correlating to myofascial trigger point pain, to aid many people dealing with pain symptoms along the anterior tibialis muscles, causing shin splints. We encourage and appreciate each patient by referring them to associated medical providers based on their diagnosis, especially when appropriate. We understand that education is an excellent source to asking our providers intricated questions at the patient’s request. Dr. Alex Jimenez, D.C., only utilizes this information as an educational service. Disclaimer
Have you been dealing with leg pain affecting your ability to move? Do you feel radiating pain going down to your feet? Or does even the smallest amount of pressure sends shooting pain from your knees to your feet? Many of these leg pain issues correlate to myofascial trigger points along the anterior tibialis muscles, mimicking shin splints. Studies reveal that the leg is divided into anterior, lateral, and posterior crural compartments. As one of the largest four muscles in the anterior compartment of the legs, the tibialis anterior is a thick muscle located in the front of the lateral tibia of the legs. The tibialis anterior has the muscle that allows the function to the lower leg and tendons that travel down to the ankle and foot. The anterior tibial muscle plays an important role in the lower leg through dorsiflexion and inversion of the foot. To that point, the anterior tibial muscle plays a key role in energy absorption when walking and maintaining balance.
Since the anterior tibial muscle plays a key role in energy absorption when it comes to walking and maintaining balance in the body, when the lower leg extremity muscles have been overused, it causes stress on the tibial anterior. It can lead to medial tibial stress syndrome or shin splints. Studies reveal that shin splints affect many athletes, especially runners, by causing pain and discomfort to the tibial anterior. This can cause mobility and balancing issues in the legs and lead to the development of myofascial trigger points in the anterior tibial muscle. Now, how do shin splints and myofascial trigger points correlate with each other?
Dr. Janet G. Travell, M.D., author of “Myofascial Pain and Discomfort: The Trigger Point Manual,” mentioned that one of the chief complaints many people have when experiencing myofascial trigger points would feel muscle weakness of dorsiflexion to the foot when walking. Other complaints include:
The book also mentioned that myofascial pain causes referred pain to the anterior tibial muscle, thus mimicking shin splints. The activation from myofascial trigger points causes an overload of the anterior tibial muscle, thus causing various pain issues in the legs and restricting mobility to the muscle itself.
Have you been dealing with radiating pain from your knees to your feet? Do your legs feel heavy from walking a short distance? Or do your leg muscles feel cramps that hinder your ability to move? These pain-like issues are associated with the anterior tibialis muscle being affected by trigger points. Trigger points or myofascial pain syndrome can affect the worldwide population by affecting a muscle or muscle group in the body that can impair mobility, cause pain-like symptoms, and reduces a person’s overall sense of well-being. Trigger points along the tibialis anterior muscle cause mobility issues and mimic shin splint issues in the legs. All is not lost, however, as there are ways to reduce pain-like symptoms and help manage myofascial trigger points in the anterior tibialis muscle. The video above explains where the trigger points are located in the tibialis anterior through palpitation. By finding the trigger points in the affected muscle, doctors can refer patients to pain specialists who target trigger points and provide treatment to reduce the pain.
There are various methods to treat the tibialis anterior when treating shin splints associated with trigger points. Studies reveal that one of the multiple ways to reduce shin splints is to strengthen the core hip muscles, improve running mechanics, and prevent lower-extremity overuse injuries. Muscle strength training allows the other muscles from the abdominals, gluteal, and hips to be stronger and reduce strain on the anterior tibialis muscles. Another method that many individuals should consider is to wear the appropriate footwear. Wearing the proper footwear can reduce the shock absorption to the feet and reduce the overloading forces on the anterior tibialis. These are two methods to manage trigger points and prevent shin splints from re-occurring in the legs.
As one of the four leg muscles, the anterior tibialis is a large muscle located in front of the lateral tibia and travels down to the ankles and foot. This muscle plays an important role in the legs as it allows dorsiflexion and inversion of the foot while also playing a key role in energy absorption when walking and maintaining balance. When the anterior tibialis becomes overused, it can develop trigger points, which invoke shin splints in the legs. When the legs suffer from shin splints associated with trigger points, it can cause pain in the lower leg extremities and cause the body to become unstable. However, various methods can take the load off the tibialis anterior and help improve the body’s stability, allowing the individual to walk without feeling pain traveling up from their feet.
Deshmukh, Nikita S, and Pratik Phansopkar. “Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome: A Review Article.” Cureus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 July 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9356648/.
Galbraith, R Michael, and Mark E Lavallee. “Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome: Conservative Treatment Options.” Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Oct. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848339/.
Juneja, Pallavi, and John B Hubbard. “Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Tibialis Anterior Muscles.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 29 Aug. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513304/.
Travell, J. G., et al. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual: Vol. 2:the Lower Extremities. Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
Zielinska, Nicol, et al. “Anatomical Variations of the Tibialis Anterior Tendon Insertion: An Updated and Comprehensive Review.” Journal of Clinical Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 19 Aug. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8396864/.
The information herein on "Shin Splints & Myofascial Trigger Points" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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