Shin Ankle and Foot Muscles
The muscles of the shin originate at the top of the tibia, just below the knee joint, and extend down the front of the shin and over the ankle joint. The primary action of the shin muscles is to dorsiflex, extend or invert the ankle joint.
The extensor hallucis longus and extensor digitorum longus are the main extensor muscles of the toes. The tendons of these muscles run over the front of the ankle, over the foot and attach to the toes. These muscles dorsiflex the foot and work in opposition to the flexor muscles. When the calf muscles are tight, or the muscles are worked beyond their exertion level, inflammation of the tendon may occur.
Tibialis anterior originates from the lateral condyle of the tibia, and inserts into the medial and plantar surfaces of the medial cuneiform bone. Tibialis anterior is responsible for dorsiflexing and inverting the foot and is used frequently during running to toe up with each step.
Pain in the front of the shin occurs when the muscle and tendon become inflamed and irritated through overuse or improper form. One structure worth noting is a tough fibrous tissue, plantar fascia, also called plantar aponeurosis, which connects the heel to the toes. Repetitive ankle movement, especially when restricted by tight calves, can irritate this tissue at the insertion on the heel. Specific stretches help to alleviate this problem.
The feet and ankles are comprised of a multitude of small muscles that control the foot. The muscles around the feet and ankles, along with the structure of the joints, allow for a large range of movement of the feet and ankle; including plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, inversion, eversion, and rotation.
There are four layers of muscle in the sole of the foot. The first layer is the most inferior (that is, the most superficial and closest to the ground in standing), comprising abductor hallucis, flexor digitorum brevis, and abductor digiti minimi. Abductor digiti minimi forms the lateral margin of the sole of the foot. The second layer contains the lumbricales and quadratus plantae, plus the tendons of flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum longus. The third layer contains flexor hallucis brevis, adductor hallucis, and flexor digiti minimi brevis. The fourth layer is the deepest (most superior) layer of muscles of the sole of the foot. It consists of the four muscles of the dorsal interossei and the three muscles of the plantar interossei and the tendons of tibialis posterior and peroneus longus.
On the dorsum of the foot lies extensor digitorum brevis. Sports that benefit from these shin, ankles and feet stretches include: basketball and netball; boxing; cycling; hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and orienteering; ice hockey and field hockey; ice-skating, roller-skating and inline skating; martial arts; racquet sports like tennis, badminton and squash; running, track and cross-country; running sports like football, soccer, gridiron and rugby; snow skiing and water skiing; surfing; swimming; walking and race walking.