Plantar Flexion | Function, Anatomy and Cause of Injury
Plantar flexion is a common anatomical movement used by athletes. It is when a person puts their ankle into extension and points the toes down and away. It is commonly seen in athletes because they need to be in plantar flexion to run, throw and pretty much every other athletic movement. If you cannot go into plantar flexion at all, you more than likely cannot play sports.
Plantar flexion affects the entire lower leg including: feet, toes, ankle, and calf muscle and many other smaller muscles play a role to make it happen.
Ankle Joint – For plantar flexion to happen, the ankle joint must be able to move freely. When people have limited range of motion in their ankles, they are not able to go as far up on their toes. When you look dancers for example, they often have fantastic flexibility in their ankles and can get completely on their toes.
Toes – The toes play a role because they must go into extension and also help you to balance. If you are having toe issues, it may be tough to go into your ties
Foot Muscles – The foot muscles must be able to stabilize as the heel rises off of the ground.
Gastrocnemius (Calf Muscle) – The calf starts at the Achilles tendon and goes up to the knee. During plantar flexion, it does the bulk of the work.
Soleus – The soleus sits behind the calf and merges with it to make the Achilles tendon. The soleus plays a huge role in plantar flexion, especially when the knee is flexed.
Plantaris – The muscle works with the Achilles tendon and the knee to allow for plantar flexion.
Flexor Hallicus Longus – The muscle is one of the deep muscles of the lower leg, and it allows for plantar flexion as well as the curling of toes. It is important for walking and staying balanced when in plantar flexion.
Flexor Digitorum Longus – This deep lower leg muscle attaches to every toe except for the big toe. It helps with plantar flexion, arch support, and toe flexion.
Tibialis Posterior – This unique muscle separated the tibia and fibula of the lower leg. The muscle takes a beating when there is a lot of plantar flexion happening. That is why a lot of runners have issues with their posterior tibialis.
Peroneus Longus – Works with the tibialis posterior to help stabilize the foot when in plantar flexion.
Peroneus Brevis – Another foot stabilizer in plantar flexion.
Function of Plantar Flexion
Being on your toes has many purposes for everyday living and athletes alike. If you are trying to each something high up you usually have to go on your toes to do it. To go upstairs, you must use plantar flex to push off of the previous step.
As an athlete, it plays a huge role in running and jumping. Without plantar flexion, it is impossible to run or jump. If any of the muscles that help with plantar flexion are injured, it will be seriously hurt your ability to perform.
Plantar Flexion Injuries
As stated above the key to healthy plantar flexion lies in keeping the group of lower leg muscles healthy. You also need to keep the entire ankle joint healthy and moving smoothly to maintain healthy. If any of these things break down, it will put more load on another structure an eventually create more injuries.
When the ankle join does suffer an injury such as an ankle sprain, it will become inflamed to reduce movement. That often means that the ankle will struggle to go into plantar flexion. These injuries can range from mild to complete fractures of the ankle. The severity will determine the best path of treatment.
If you are dealing with a muscular injury, it is most likely due to overuse. When overuse injuries happen, it is because you are training too hard or your other muscles are not doing there fair share. You will need to get some form of manual therapy from a healthcare provider. That will allow the underactive muscles to become activated and take the load of the overused muscle.
If you are dealing with ankle sprains or potential fractures, you need to get evaluated right away. One of the biggest mistakes people make with ankle injuries is not rehabbing it properly. When that happens, it sets you up for recurring ankle injuries in the future. By seeing a sports medicine professional, you ensure that you are getting put on the correct path to health.
The best thing you can do to prevent plantar flexion ankle injuries is increasing strength and stability of the ankle. The more stability you build int he ankle and in the foot, the easier it will be for the ankle to avoid ankle sprains and other injuries.
Finding The Best Local Sports Medicine Providers
9INE POINT Health is the best place to start your search for a health care provider to help you stay healthy. Any athlete that runs is at greater risk of pain and the key to success as an athlete is staying healthy.
9INE POINT Health lets you search for providers by type and skill. For example, you can look for a Physical Therapist with any skill set you need. It does not matter what kind of provider you need, 9INE POINT Health can help you find them and help you to sort through their skills.
If you are unsure where to start your journey, 9INE POINT Health will ask you questions and help you figure out the best starting place. All you have to do is answer a few questions. From there, 9INE POINT Health will connect you with the type of provider best suited for your needs. It does not matter if you are injured or making sure you don’t run into plantar flexion issues.
Skill Sets to Look for In Sports Medicine Providers
Skill sets are the things healthcare providers learn after they graduate. A healthcare provider can take courses and get certifications for different skill sets. These skill sets are valuable and help them approach injuries from different perspectives so that you can get the best help at the right time for any Plantar Flexion issues.
- Dry needling
- Joint Manipulation
- Active Release Technique
- Graston Technique
- Functional Movement Screen
- Fascial Stretching
- Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Athletic Trainer
- Sports Background
- And many more
KHO Health was acquired by was acquire by 9INE POINT in the summer of 2019 and is now referred to as 9INE POINT Health.
9INE POINT Health was created by 9INE POINT in '19 as a means to provide athlete-driven resources to "Protect Athletes' Minds, Body and Belly". As well as be a platform for healthcare providers and other specialists to display their knowledge.