The ankle anatomy is important since all the movements of your ankle come from the muscles of your lower leg, and most of the movements of your foot come from your lower leg muscles.
Let’s talk about the muscles of the lower leg and then move on to the common conditions that occur when these muscles are tight:
Your Gastrocneimus and Soleus muscles both originate on the back side of your shin bone (tibia) and insert into your Achilles tendon, which then inserts into your heel. When these muscles contract you go from standing flat on the floor to standing on your toes. Obviously you use these muscles with every step you take, but you also repetitively strain your right leg when you drive a car.
When the muscles are shortened by spasms you will have calf pain, Achilles tendonitis pain, and/or heel pain every time you put your foot flat on the floor.
As you sleep your foot is gently pointing down, causing both of these muscles to be contracted the entire time you are sleeping. This is the prime reason that you may have calf or heel pain when you first step out of bed. As the muscles warm up and begin to lengthen, the pain may lessen or even completely go away, only to re-occur the next morning.
If you self-treat these muscles before you step out of bed in the morning you’ll see that the problem is eliminated.
Your Tibialis Anterior muscle runs along the entire length of the outside edge of your shin bone, merges into the tendon at the slender portion of your ankle where it then passes underneath a ligament (a very strong fiber) and the tendon inserts into the first bone (first metatarsal) of your arch. When the Tibialis Anterior contracts, you lift up the inside of your foot and roll over toward the outside of your foot. This muscle is used repetitively when you drive a car, especially if you drive long distances.
When you sprain your ankle this muscle totally contracts quickly, and then you straighten out your foot, but the spasms that formed during the contraction have shortened the muscle. As a result, the muscle is pulling hard on the tendon, pushing it up into the ligament and you feel the strain across the front of your ankle and into your arch.
Since most people don’t realize they should be treating their Tibialis Anterior after a sprain, they may feel an ache for a very long time. The same is true if you have taken a long car trip, you may feel pain along the entire length of your shin bone.
Athletes also have shin splints, a burning pain along the length of the shin bone, which is being caused by the Tibialis Anterior muscle.
There are actually two Peroneal muscles, both running down the outside of your lower leg and the tendon forming at the slender portion of your ankle. The tendon then goes behind your ankle, under a ligament, and one muscle inserts into the long bone on the very outside of your foot, while the other tendon goes underneath your arch and inserts at the same point as the Tibialis Anterior. When your Peroneals contract you roll toward your big toe and arch, lifting up the outside of your foot.
Driving will also repetitively strain your right Peroneal muscles, and spraining your ankle will cause these muscles to rapidly overstretch as your foot rolls in toward your arch, and then rapidly contract when you straighten your foot again.
After spraining your ankle it is very important to treat both the Tibialis Anterior and the Peroneals, which is easy to do, so you can release the tension in the muscle and take the pressure off your ankle and foot.
Both the Flexor Digitorum Longus muscle and Flexor Hallicus Longus muscle originate on the lower part of your leg, underneath your Achilles tendon. The Flexor Digitorum Longus tendon inserts into the bottom of your four toes, and the Flexor Hallicus Longus tendon inserts into the bottom of your big toe.
These muscles are responsible for pointing your toes and are easily repetitively strained while you are driving a car. They are also overstrained if you wear thong-style sandals because your toes keep subtly curling to hold on your shoes.
Julie Donnelly has worked with thousands of athletes since 1989, and she’s seen so many people who are suffering from plantar fasciitis that she’s decided it must be epidemic for anyone who is in a running sport. Too often the person has been told to get orthotics, and Julie has found that in many cases this makes the problem better for a short time and then makes it worse.
If you look at the muscles that impact your foot you’ll notice that each muscle pulls your foot in a different direction, and therein lies the problem!
To begin, think of the muscles that span your arch—they go from your heel bone to the ball of your foot, and from side to side.
Orthotics are made to lift the floor up to meet your heel, while you can instead release the muscle so your heel comes back down to the floor. When you first get the orthotics they are the right height to support your uplifted heel (and shortened calf muscles), but it also allows your calf muscles to then shorten even further and the orthotics need to be changed to make the correction. It is rarely, if ever, suggested that you release the tension in your calf muscles.
As your calf muscles pull back on your heel, the movement is stretching your arch muscles back. As your tibialis anterior muscle is pulling one way, and your peroneal muscles are pulling the other way, your arch is being spread out sideways. Between all of these muscles, your arch is in pain but it’s ALL coming from your lower leg.
When performing self-treatments to eliminate ankle and foot pain, it is often helpful to warm the muscles and to have tools available such as a ball. As with other joints, ankle pain is often caused by muscles in other parts of the leg, so treating several areas is often necessary for complete relief.
The Julstro™ System shows you how to self-treat your pain by releasing spasms and lengthening muscle fibers. Using these treatments, you can relieve the symptoms of ankle and foot pain without surgery.
The kit includes:
The Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living book with more than 200 illustrated treatments for the entire body.Visit our store to see our other resources specifically for ankle and foot pain, including The Pain-Free Runner book and The Julstro Guide to Treating the Lower Body on DVD.
That’s it! There’s no more waiting for a therapist or doctor’s appointment to relieve the pain. You are your best therapist. With the Julstro™ System, you may never need to spend another dollar on expensive therapy or questionable treatments.