Whether meandering across a sloping yard, feeling the soft sand on a barefoot beach stroll, or hiking the gravel path through the park, it is our peroneal muscles that keep us moving smoothly on unstable ground. During foot push off, they assist in ankle plantarflexion and then smoothly evert the ankle, so the foot clears the ground. However, these humble muscles manage several jobs, so don’t miss my peroneals article from Wednesday which investigates their supporting role in loading the powerful medial longitudinal arches in our feet.
Today, let’s look at the peroneals’ critical accountability in ankle eversion for lateral stabilization. In this task, the peroneal muscles help maintain static and dynamic balance and must work overtime to scaffold us when we sport shoes with shaky lateral support, while bracing our ankles from inverting (rolling outwards).
The peroneous longus and brevis muscles are infamously associated with inversion ankle strains and sprains; commonly known as rolling the ankle. Such injuries destabilize the peroneal muscles. Lengthy immobilizations (like wearing a cast), sleeping with the foot in plantarflexion, repetitive sitting with legs crossed, flat footed individuals, or wearing high heels also significantly increase risk of impairment to peroneals due to the wear and tear of repetitive, flawed biomechanics. Symptoms typically include soreness at the lateral side of the calf below the knee or at the lateral side of the ankles, and very often the complaint of weak ankles.
Upon closer investigation, we learn that myofascial trigger points often form in aggravated peroneal muscles, inhibiting the full strength potential of the muscle fibers and causing referred pain and weakness. Sadly, weak ankles can lead to repeated inversion sprains and a downward spiral of repeated events if trigger points and related inhibition of the muscles are not addressed. Due to our body’s architecture, trigger points in these muscles may be activated by other dysfunctional areas or poor mechanics from either above or below. A little known but painful reality is that a chronically tight peroneous longus muscle can compress the common peroneal nerve underneath. Symptoms of a compressed nerve may include tingling on top of the foot, aggravated by walking and especially squatting or poses such as Sitting Seza. In more advanced cases, medical treatment may be necessary when patients have chronic contracture or weakness lifting up their foot (foot drop).
Proper gait and posture begins in strengthening our ankles and feet. Using Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls is an effective way to create relief and restore suppleness, working out tight tissues or trigger points before any serious problems arise or in effort to prevent re-injury. If you are aware of ankle weakness, discomfort or pain, keep in mind that these are perhaps only SYMPTOMS of issues in or around the peroneal muscles. Be sure to identify the source of your issue. Please take a look at this video to locate troublesome trigger points using YTU Therapy Balls and roll down the road to better postural health.