The Tibialis Anterior is the thick muscle on the front part of the shin. It is the primary dorsiflexor of the foot. Last years Performance Enhancement Seminar in Indianapolis, Mike Robertson, stated that it's the least trained movement in training.
Anatomically it originates off the upper lateral half of the tibia bone and off the interosseus membrane. It runs down and inserts on the medical cuneiform and first metatarsal. It functions to hold up the medial longitudinal arch and dorsiflex/invert the foot. It forms a fascial sling with the peroneal muscles as well. It is innervated by the deep peroneal nerve, L4,L5.
Functionally it resupinates the foot thus helping hold the arch up. If it doesn't perform that function well, the deeper calf structures such as tibialis posterior take up the slack and can in turn develop deep knots and tightness. Again, one of the prime maxims of therapy, treat the body, not the site of pain.
Neuro-biomechanics of Sprinting. In the paper it stated that faster sprinters sent the message to the anterior muscles to dorsiflex faster, and slower sprinters sent the message much later. Some of the faster sprinters even sent the message during the midstance phase. They state. "This finding further validates the concept of anticipatory firing or reprogramming the athlete's nervous system to send the dorsiflexion message sooner."
From a therapy standpoint, I like to try to remove all adhesions in the tib. ant. muscle as well as the extensor hallucis muscle. From a strength coach view, I'm playing with different ideas on how to get that neural reprogramming in the weight room. Can it even be done? Do you have any drills/exercise you can do in the weight room to facilitate better dorsiflexion that will carry over to sprinting?