Having discussed the bony architecture, let’s look at the muscular support for your feet!
Fibularis Longus is a foot everter and helps plantar flex the ankle. It runs down the lateral side of the fibula from just below the knee. It’s long tendonous attachment snakes behind the lateral malleolus of the fibula, then underneath the cuboid to attach at the medial side of the mid-foot, at the base of the first metatarsal (big toe) and the bone right behind it closer to the ankle—the first cuneiform. While the Fibularis muscles as a rule support the lateral arch, the Longus’ lateral-to-medial track supports the transverse arch as well.
Fibularis Brevis, also an everter and plantar flexor, sits deep, medial and inferior to its longer counterpart, connecting the lower portion of the lateral fibula, passing behind the lateral malleolus to the base of the pinkie toe. It pulls the metatarsal back toward the cuboid, snuggling up the lateral arch.
Tibialis Anterior is an ankle inverter and dorsiflexor, connecting the lateral side tibia from below the knee, crossing the ankle on top of the foot at the retinaculum, to the medial cuneiform and base of the big toe, giving the weakest point in the medial arch significant support.
Tibialis Posterior, an inverter and plantar flexor, descends from the backside of the tibia and fibula below the knee, threads behind the medial malleolus, and fans across the navicular, all three cuneiforms and the bases of the 2nd – 4th toes. Given the number and locations of these connections, the Tibialis Posterior is critical to transverse as well as medial arch support.
These four muscles and the support they create in the arches of our feet allow us to walk easily on uneven terrain. Unfortunately, aside from the occasional vacation stroll on the beach, few of us cruise around barefoot, thus leaving these muscles underused, misused, and abused and our ankles inverting, everting and spraining.
If the Fibuaris Longus is tight and the Tibialis Anterior is overstretched, the foot everts (pronates). While we need some degree of pronation so all five toes land simultaneously in our footfall, excessive pronation often results in a collapsed medial arch (think plantar fasciitis and heel spurs). If the opposite occurs (overstretched Fibularis Longis and tight Tibialis Anterior), the foot supinates (inverts). Too much supination results in ankle sprains. No wonder you may suddenly find yourself a whimpering or wobbly Warrior.
Look at the heels of your shoes. If they slope toward each other, you are a pronator, if they slope away, you are a supinator. In either case, your arches could probably use a little maintenance. To stretch, strengthen and fortify your architecture from the ground up, check out the Yoga Tune Up® Quick Fix for Feet and Ankles. My favorite exercises include calf raises for strengthening (be sure you are lifting and lowering evenly), dandasana ankle circles and namaste feet for range of motion, and sitting seza (both versions) for deep stretching.
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