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What Is the Shin Muscle?

Runners can be prone to shin splints.
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  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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The shin muscle, also called the anterior tibial muscle, is essential to everyday walking and standing, as well as more vigorous activities. It controls balance as well as foot and toe mobility. This is the most active muscle when running and therefore also is the most frequently injured.

The shin muscle is what makes up the fleshy part of the outside of the shin bone, also called the tibia. It can usually been seen when flexed from the front of the lower leg. It originates at the upper half of the lateral and anterior surfaces of the shin and the lateral tibial condyle. The muscle is attached to the tibialis anterior tendon and is inserted in the medial cuneiform bone and first metatarsal bone of the foot.

The deep peroneal nerve connects the shin muscle to the central nervous system. Blood is carried to this and other muscles of the lower leg by the anterior tibial artery. The oxygenated blood is then carried from the muscles back to the heart for filtration from the anterior tibial veins.

The shin muscle has a few different functions. It serves to stabilize the legs when standing or preparing to kick a ball. This muscle can also invert the foot, when the foot moves sideways from the ankle toward the opposite foot. It also can dorsiflex the foot and ankle, when the toes point upward toward the body. The muscle is used in everyday activities such as walking, running, and standing.

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Shin pain is very common. Just about every athlete has suffered shin pain at least once in his or her life. The majority of shin pain is due to overuse of the shin muscle and tendons. It could be overuse in general or overuse without properly warming up the muscle. Shin splints, sprains, and strains are the most common causes of shin pain.

Shin splints are a type of overuse injury that affects the shin muscle. It is unclear what the exact cause of shin splints are. They seem to be a result of inflammation of muscle tissue due to damage to the tendons attached to the tibia. Shin splint symptoms are a dull ache in the front of the lower leg next to the shin. Usually the area of pain is about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long. A sudden increase in the intensity of exercise is the primary trigger of shin splints.

Shin injury prevention is critical to staying healthy and maintaining a regular exercise routine. The shin muscle is the most active muscle when walking or running, and so it is also the most prone to injury and fatigue. Stretching the muscle before a workout can prevent injury by properly warming up the muscle to prepare it for action. Shin exercises are another great way to make sure the shins stay strong.

Exercising the shin muscle regularly can prevent fatigue and injury and prepare the muscle for increased workout routines. Shin exercises should be done after a 10-minute warm-up before walking or jogging. There are a variety of shin exercises available online with step-by-step instructions. A professional trainer can also provide tips for shin exercises. Some of the more common exercises include jumping, using the balls of the feet, as well as skipping and jogging.

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