Anterior Tibial Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

What is Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis?

Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of the tendon that runs from the front of the lower leg down to and stretching across the ankle. This condition is also sometimes referred to as anterior shin splints. This anterior tibial tendon is one of the main tendons responsible for lifting the foot and toes upward. It causes pain in the front of the ankle or the medial midfoot where it inserts on the bone, especially when walking downstairs or on slopes.

What does tibialis anterior pain feel like?

Tibialis anterior pain can feel like a dull ache or sharp pain in the front of the shin or ankle. It may be accompanied by swelling or tenderness in the affected area, and the pain may worsen during physical activity or when flexing the foot upward. Some people may also experience a sensation of stiffness or tightness in the affected leg.

What causes tibialis anterior tendonitis?

This condition is often caused by overuse or repetitive strain on the tendon, particularly in activities that involve a lot of high impact sports, jumping, running, or walking on hard surfaces or from wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support. It is more common in people who have flat feet or high arches, which can increase the stress on the tendon.

What are the symptoms of Anterior Tibial Tendonitis?

Symptoms of anterior tibial tendonitis include pain, swelling, and tenderness along the front of the lower leg, particularly near the ankle or shinbone. The pain may worsen during physical activity and improve with rest. In more severe cases, the tendon may become weakened and torn, leading to chronic pain and disability.

tibialis anterior tendonitis infographic

How do you treat tibialis anterior tendonitis?

Treatment for anterior tibial tendonitis typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected leg to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy and stretching exercises may also be recommended to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility, such as stretching the tibialis anterior with heel walks and toe raises. A therapist may recommend using kinesiology tape to strengthen the tibialis anterior; or using a heel lift or arch support to aid in the healing process. In some cases, orthopedic aids such as a brace, a walking boot or a cast may be necessary to immobilize the affected leg to promote quicker healing.

What dress shoes should I wear if I have tibialis anterior tendonitis?

If you've got tibialis anterior tendonitis and need to wear dress shoes for work or a special occasion, there are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the right shoe. Look for shoes that have a low heel and good arch support, as this can help take some of the pressure off the tibialis anterior muscle. Shoes that have a wide toe box and are made from soft, flexible materials can also be a good choice, as they'll allow your foot to move more naturally and won't pinch or rub against the affected area. If you're still not sure what type of shoe is right for you, consider talking to a podiatrist or orthopedist, as they can give you specific advice based on your individual needs.

High Top Dress Shoes

Some people prefer high top dress shoes while healing while others prefer a dress shoe with more flexability and range of motion like our Oxford Derby Orthopedic Leather Shoes which have the added benefit of being slip resistant which can prevent futrther injury.

Can I run with tibialis anterior tendonitis?

If you've got tibialis anterior tendonitis, you might be wondering if it's okay to keep running. Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. Running can make the pain and inflammation worse and delay the healing process. Instead, it's a good idea to rest the affected leg and try out some low-impact activities, like cycling or swimming, that won't put as much strain on the tibialis anterior muscle. If you're not sure what activities are safe for you to do, or if you're worried that your symptoms might be getting worse, it's always a good idea to check with a doctor or physical therapist. They might be able to give you some specific exercises or stretches that can help you heal and get back to running safely.

Can running barefoot on the beach help with tibialis anterior tendonitis?

Exercises for Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis

Ok not everyone has access to a beach but there has been talk about how running or walking barefoot on the sand can strengthen your feet. So if you do have access to a beach this section is for you. Running barefoot on the beach can be a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful scenery, but if you're dealing with tibialis anterior tendonitis, it's important to be careful. On the one hand, running on a soft, sandy surface can be gentler on your joints and muscles, which can be a good thing if you're dealing with pain and inflammation. Plus, going barefoot can help improve your balance and strengthen your foot and ankle muscles, which can be helpful in preventing future injuries. On the other hand, running on an uneven surface like sand can put more stress on your feet and ankles, which can make the pain and inflammation worse. And if you're not used to running barefoot or on sand, you might be at higher risk of developing foot issues. So, if you're thinking about running barefoot on the beach with tibialis anterior tendonitis, it's important to start slowly and gradually increase your distance and intensity and to wait until after you are fully healed before you experiment. And if you experience any pain or discomfort, be sure to stop and rest, and consider talking to a doctor or physical therapist for advice.

When should I see a doctor?

If the pain persists or becomes severe, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options. Surgery may be necessary to repair or remove damaged tissue if the condition does not respond to conservative treatment. Be sure you are completely healed before re-engaging in any activities that involve high impact sports or activities that cause repetitive strain on the tibial tendon.

How long does it take for anterior tibial tendonitis to go away?

With the proper treatment and plenty of rest it is estimated that mild cases of anterior tibial tendonitis can improve within 4 to 6 weeks. More severe cases could take as long as 3-6 months to fully heal or longer. It really is dependent on a number of factors and it is important to realize that every person is different and the circumstances surrounding an individuals situation is unique so recovery time can vary depending on factors such as age, overall health, the extent of the injury, and the type of treatment used. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional to get an accurate estimate of recovery time for your specific case and don't get your hopes up based on what you read in articles online. Don't be hard on yourself. Give your body the time it needs to heal and don't compare your situation to others.

Are there ways to prevent Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis?

To prevent Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis from occurring, take the time to warm up and stretch before beginning any strenuous physical activity. Consult with a professional to make sure you are using proper techniques and the correct equipment before engaging in exercises for specific muscles and outcomes. Stay well-hydrated during exercise and during sports activities. If you have flat feet, wear arch supports.

For more information about foot pain and issues related to your feet click here to consult our in depth foot pain charts.

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