Most Neglected Muscle

Most Neglected Muscle

Tibialis Negligence

Most gym-goers train the posterior mass muscle--the gastroc and soleus (calf muscle). These are also important muscles responsible for plantarflexion and knee flexor (gastroc only), but they fail to perform opposite actions at the ankle joint. I want to bring up this topic of examining the tibialis as interest in the function of the foot begins to intrigue me. Many experts are beginning to recognize the significance of foot/ankle dynamics and the relationship this complex has with the entire kinetic chain. It would only be natural to grant the foot notoriety because it is always in contact with the ground and is the main "communicator" between force production and the body.

High arches or supinated feet can pose problems for active individuals due to the instability that may be present at the ankle joint. This instabilty may cause high risk of ankle sprains in athletes and active people--leaving them prone to weeks and months of no lower-body dominated activities. From a biomechanical viewpoint, the anterior tibial muscle has a strong supinatory action when there is an abnormal relationship between the talus & calcaneus. So, negligence of training this muscle can cause "confusion" in the ankle and foot complex--increasing the risk of acute injuries.

So how do we train this thin, long muscle? Ankle rolls and heel walks are great for warm-up and mobility. But in order to achieve hypertrophy and strengthen the tibialis anterior, we need to perform a single joint action that mimicks its function under loads--dorsiflexion. I have enlisted the use of the leg press for one thing....lazy man's calf raises or loaded dorsiflexion.

To perform: Set yourself up in a leg press (horizontal sled preferrably) with knees slightly bent. Choose about 25% lessweight than what you would use for the "Lazy Man's Calf Raises". Follow that with raising the forefoot off the sled and begin dorsiflexing.

Each rep should bring your foot flat against the plate with knees remaining bent. A dorsiflexion at the ankle should slide the sled back a few inches. I like the rep range in 12-15 range with minimal rest in between sets. This is an auxillary exercise so there is no need to spend all day on it. I like 2-3 "polishing off" sets.