The muscles of the lower leg can be divided into two groups � the muscles in the front of the leg and the muscles in the back of the leg. The article Calf Muscles discusses the two muscles that make up the calf located at the back of the leg, the gastrocnemius and soleus. This article will feature the muscle in the front of the leg called the tibialis anterior.
The tibialis anterior is the main muscle along the front of your shin that pulls the foot up at the ankle. When this becomes weak you may experience a mild version of 'foot drop' (the toe dropping down as the foot is lifted from the ground). This condition can lead to a �high step� style of walking so the foot clears the ground, or a shuffling of the feet. Either way the risk of tripping and falling is greatly increased with this condition due to catching the front of the foot on the ground, stairs, curbs or any object you may attempt to step over.
Difficulty in walking, frequent tripping or falling and chronic ankle sprains all may be symptoms of muscle imbalances in the lower leg. If muscles in your lower leg are weak this will impair your ability to balance, the ability of your muscles to support the ankle joint and the ability to perform good walking technique.
EXERCISE TO STRENGTHEN THE TIBIALIS ANTERIOR
Sitting with leg over the edge of table or bed (so foot is off the floor). Place a cuff weight around the foot (not the ankle). Bend ankle/foot up towards the knee 12-15 times rest and repeat. Start with 1-pound weight and see how you feel and increase the weight, as you are able.
Toe-Ups- Stand holding the back of a chair. Pull ball of foot off the floor 10 times. For more difficulty stand with heels on a 1" to 2" ledge and forefoot hanging off front of ledge. Again pull ball of foot off floor and back down 10 times.
Heel walking � walk contacting just the heels without going onto the ball of the foot. Start with walking around a chair to hold on to for balance and progress, as you are able.
These are more advanced exercises. In other words you need a good base of strength to perform them. If your legs are weak you should work to strengthen them with specific exercises before trying these. At the very least if you are unsteady have someone hold on to you for support.
2 Sets about 20 yards each set:
Toe walking � walking on balls of feet with heels lifted
Heel walking � contacting just the heels without going onto the ball of the foot
Side walking � step to the side, then bring feet together
Back walking � walking backwards
Line walking � walking along a line on the floor
For exercises to be effective you must do them regularly � once every couple of days is not enough. Try to build your exercises into daily life. And remember nothing replaces good walking technique. Make it a habit to always practice good posture and good 'heel-to-toe' walking technique.
Source: Senior Directions