By MISSY ALBRECHT, DPT, CSCS, FMS| Physical Therapist/Coach
Muscle Spotlight: Posterior Tibialis
This muscle originates on the posterior surface of the tibia and fibula, which are your two lower leg bones. The muscle then runs down the back of your lower leg, behind the medial bone of your ankle, and attaches to the bottom of many bones in your feet (see image for details).
**Usually your lower leg is termed the calf, but there are other muscles in the lower leg that lie deeper than the “calf,” which is a combination of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
This muscle causes plantar flexion and inversion of your ankle (see video below for a visual of these movements). It also helps create the arch of your foot, along with many other structures, so it needs to be strong to support one’s body weight.
When your posterior tibialis becomes problematic….
What does this muscle have to do with people who lift heavy weights like all of you? A lot! Especially if you’re wearing the barefoot shoes, so read on…
This muscle can be a common site of inflammation, leading to long-term tendon damage if not treated (i.e. tenodonitis, -osis and/or -opathy). Because of its location in the arch of the foot, the muscle/tendon needs to be strong and be able to support our body weight. The problem usually doesn’t stem from this muscle originally, but from some other alteration in the foot and/or ankle joint. For example, limited ankle flexibility (dorsiflexion) may be caused by an old ankle sprain. This causes the foot to have to turn out more, which then causes the arch to collapse. With every collapse, the posterior tibialis tendon is overstretched and weakened, eventually causing little tears in the tendon. This can cause pain and eventually the image below….
A Quick Self-Assessment
What should you do to prevent further damage?
1. Orthotics may be a temporary solution!
2. Make sure you have good ankle flexibility.
This will keep your ankle happy overall and decrease stress on other areas. If one area is stiff, other areas must compensate and work harder than they should to make up for it.
3. Decrease the time you spend in flip flops.
The constant grabbing of your toes to keep the shoes on puts extra stress on your foot and creates more problems in the long run.
4. Get into the posterior tibialis with the lacrosse ball.
You will most likely need to put the ball on the yoga block or a book to get more pressure. Go all the way along the medial side of your shin bone, moving your ankle around as you work through tight spots.