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.

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Diane Marra

Diane Marra is an Exercise Physiologist and Biomechanics specialist with more than 20 years’ experience teaching in universities, hospitals, corporate and community settings. Diane holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from California State University and numerous fitness certifications. Her scientific research, conducted for the US Army Medical Department and California State University, has been presented at international conferences and published in clinical journals. Today, Diane is creating new programs as the corporate Wellness Manager for a global manufacturing company and still teaches part-time for SUNY Buffalo State College. Since personally overcoming multiple injuries and chronic pain, Diane has a passion for helping ‘regular folks’ who sit too much, manage pain conditions, seek post-injury recovery, and/or simply want to be stronger. Current credentials include: National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA™-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine/ ExeRxcise is Medicine® ​Level 1, Yoga Tune Up® and TRX™ Diane is currently developing a new course for her SUNY Graduate students about Workplace Ergonomics and Selfcare, offers private training sessions and occasional workshops in the Buffalo-Niagara area while continuing to do free-lance research/ writing for Medical and Fitness publications.

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Amber Green

My mind has just been blown! I am a HUGE fan of the Therapy Balls and have rolled this region before but the knowledge you have provided in the previous peroneals blog with the Plantar Fasciitis Exercises and Achilles heel Treatment and this article have provided me with so much more understanding about the neglected part of my body. As a figure skater I spent my developing life in “high heels”, I had orthotics by the age of 10 as I had high arches and they we falling inwards. I never understood anything about the region until today. I have… Read more »

Shelly Lutz

Love this rolling sequence for the peroneals! My peroneals seem to be chronically tight, and I forget to roll them out. Being pregnant and just starting my third trimester, I am feeling the affects of the extra weight on my lower legs and feet. Even more important now to incorporate these moves!! Thank you for the lovely demo!

Carolyn

Great article and reminder about how important these muscles are with respect to gait and stability. As a teacher of older adults, I definitely want to address these muscles more in my classes.

Julie

Thanks for a really clear article about feet and ankles. I have several students who chronically sprain their ankles. WE are going to work on these things in class.

Gretchen Corbin

Thank you for this blog post and video Diane! I’ve been a YTU therapy ball rolling devotee for many years, but I only recently started spending time releasing the peroneals. (I was inspired when I learned of their frequent contribution to weakness/inhibition of the gluteus medius.) I really appreciate your clear explanation of their importance for lateral foot movements and stability of the ankle. So many worthy reasons to spend some time on these tissues! Your video is succinctly informative and gave me some new ideas to try out.

Kate Clark

Great article! A lot of my massage therapy clients have ongoing problems with their peroneals, and you’ve presented great information that I can pass along to them. I encourage them to do self-care between our sessions, and this video will be extremely helpful. Thanks!

Jill Dunkley

Excellent blog and video. Over a decade ago I slipped sideways to the left on a horizontal tree root while carrying a heavy back pack and heard a sickening “pop” in my lateral left ankle joint as I fell. I was diagnosed with a grade 3 ankle sprain. Since that time, both the big toe bunion and baby toe “bunionette” have significantly worsened compared to the right foot. I’m wondering if working “upstream” on the peroneals might help strengthen eversion of the foot and lessen the increasing angle of the bunion on the baby toe side? I will explore!

Kathryn

I often forget out the peroneals when trying to do lower leg YTU ball work. I love the video as it gave me numerous ideas to use for myself to help make sure my calves are not nearly so tight!

Regina

I haven’t rolled my ankles but unfortunately I have a lot of joint laxity. Individuals like me need to become aware of how this laxity effects our body. Over the lest several months I have had Plantar fascia pain. As I have been doing self-myofascial release on my foot, I have become pain stalking aware of calf issues. Where the whole plantar fascia issue began , the foot or from the calf. Who know but I have been connecting the dots and creating self-awareness in myself. I try to share all these great tidbits I have been collecting from the… Read more »

Gail Portrey

Nice exploration of the wide range of daily functions related to the peroneal stability and the importance of keeping feet and shins tuned.

Eva Roig

Thank you for your video! I finally understood where my leg pain comes from after hiking. I did find regions in need of attention while rolling the balls on my lower leg muscle, especially my left side. I can’t wait to go hiking again and test my legs!

Ann Dowd

Terrific article! I do a LOT of trail walking/running, and find that after a long session, my peroneals are on “high alert!” The rocky, rooty, sometimes icy (generally unstable) surface of the trails requires extra attention from these muscles (that may not be used to working quite so hard) to keep my ankles stable and my body upright. A delicious rolling session, like you demonstrate, keeps my legs and feet happy and ready for more trails!

Megan McDonald

As the distal extremities and their parts are a complex confusion for me, this article was awesome. I am so currently focused on spine hips and shoulders, and all the while I am slowly becoming more embodied in my arms and legs. Time to get on the ball and learn more about these pieces and parts of the body!

Betsy Bell

Thank you for writing this article on Peroneals. I am a dancer, both contemporary jazz and latin ballroom, so I dance in those high-heels with no support! Recently, I have been experiencing pain in the peroneal area. Your blog and the Yoga Tune Up techniques have helped me to pin point and treat my peroneals. I have been doing the techniques you demonstrated and working out tight tissues/ trigger points and am no longer experiencing the pain anymore. Thank you Diane and YTU!!

Diane M

Hi Beverly– Glad you have enjoyed the articles. What an Interesting question… From my study of the Anatomy Trains/Tom Myers approach to myofascial chains& movement– the idea of softening/mobilizing some of the stabilizing “lateral line” to get positive impact on our overused/underused sagittal movers (as in Seza) is spot on. I have used this approach in trunk and other body parts but not applied it to feet/ankles. Great move! Thanks for the reminder and your super curiosity –I will indeed try it:)

Beverly N.

Hi Diane. Please keep writing. I am learning so much from reading your blogs. Do you do this peroneal routine before Sitting Seza? I did it both ways (before and after) and noticed that sitting in dorsiflexion was a little easier and the fascia felt less tight when I did the ball routine before. What do you recommend?

Nikola

Hi again,
I’m happy you brought up the link between tight peroneals and ankle strains as my teenage years were pretty much devoted to rolling my ankles and they’ve never recovered. I plan on giving my peroneals regular ball attention and hope I regain much needed range of motion in my ankle and relieve the nagging pain in my plantar fascia.
Thanks

Bridget Hughes

Thank you Diane, this is exactly what the dr. ordered. great post! Bridget

Christine Colonna

This is a great routine for chronic pain after ankle sprains. Trigger points in the peroneals are a common source of residual pain after the ankle sprain heals. But need to be careful to stay below the head of the fibula to avoid rolling over the common peroneal nerve where it is very superficial.

Michele Klink

Thank you for such an in depth blog on the peroneal muscles. I sprained my ankle several years ago and have compensated in ways that this added info will help me tap deeper into the side parts of my lower legs rather than just the calves. Your YTU Therapy Ball demonstration video is very helpful to learn how to position oneself properly to get at rolling these muscles out.

Diane M

Leslie — great observation!! Yes – isn’t the ‘stirrup” effect of those muscles amazing!? I am so pleased that you looked it up and did your research! Ha! Our entire Congress would likely benefit from some YTU Ball Rolling!!

Leslie Wright

After reading your posts about flip flops and the peroneal muscles, I went off to look at pictures in the Trail Guide to the Body. I saw (as you describe) that the Peroneus longus muscle inserts at the base of the first metatarsal and the medial cuneiform and that its primary action is to EVERT the foot and that it assists in plantar flexion. I also noticed (with delight) that the Anterior tibialis muscle inserts on the SAME bones and that its primary action is to INVERT the foot and to dorsiflex the ankle. I wonder what they talk about.… Read more »

Jessie

Thanks for the informative post! I used to experience a lot of foot injuries when I was dancing; wish I had had the tuneup balls to roll with way back when!

Gary Carlisle

Continuing education with body work, alignment and balanced action of all the body mechanics is a prerequisite for all who truly embark on the study of yoga and Yoga Tune Up®. Thank you Diane for sharing your knowledge.

Alison

I overdid it one day years ago trying to force my legs into lotus and something popped in my outer right ankle. Ever since then I always feel like my right ankle and heel have been weak and something just feels off even if I do a lot if walking. Thank you for the valuable information about the peroneous longus and brevis and how they play roles in ankle stabilization and your video on how to roll them out.

joan katz

Great post. Wearing flip-flops is worse than walking bear foot! Distal alignment is critical for postural control. Spreading and lifting the toes during all standing poses will help with alignment however appropriate foot wear is critical. As a runner I wear orthotics to improve my distal alignment during weight bearing and therefore improve my proximal alignment. Thanks

Kate Krumsiek

“Grumpy peroneals” – I love it! What an excellent way to think of the consequences of our individual postural habits creating referred havoc elsewhere. You embedded so much useful information in the video both with your words but also the demo of the rolled ankle – defining inversion ankle sprain without a word! Inspiring teaching method. Thanks, Diane.

Joanne Smith

Too many of us take for granted the difficult tasks asked of the musculature of our lower leg and feet! Once we are made aware of the need to develop overall strength and dexterity, we then are at a loss for what will help us effectively treat and train those muscles for greater stability. Thank you for such an informative and useful post that I can share with those who are looking for this type of regime!

Melinda Kausek

Great post! I am one of those who constantly rolls their ankle (thankfully without any serious sprains), but I never thought about how trigger points actually lead to weakness in the muscle fibers. Your rolling practice will be a great way for me to get my peroneals back on track. Thanks!

Michelle Dalbec

Diane – Great pair of articles!!! I live in flip-flops all summer and of course have a history of spraining my ankles. I am so grateful for all this yummy information. I cannot wait to pass it onto my clients/students. I’m doing both Jill’s Sitting Seza and your rolling this morning with my class. Thanks Again! Michelle