Learning About The Ankle

           “We will be in tune with our bodies only if we truly love and honor them. We can’t be in good communication with the enemy.”  -Harriet Lerner

          Dancers are athletes and, as such, their bodies endure many hours of physical activity.  The ankle joint is one that all types of dancers depend upon in order to perform.  The ankle needs to be strong enough to support the dancer and remain stable while being flexible enough to execute dance steps.

            The ankle is the site where most dance injuries occur, and it is helpful to both dancers and dance educators to understand the anatomy of this joint.

The ankle is home to two separate joints.  The actual ankle joint is formed where the tibia, the fibula, and the talus meet.   The tibia is the large bone of the lower leg that is located on the inside of the shin while the fibula is the narrow bone that is found on the outside of the shin.  The talus is the bone located on the top of the arch of the foot where the lower leg and foot meet.  This joint is a hinge joint that is responsible for the ability to plantar flex (point) and dorsiflex (flex) the foot.
            The other joint that is responsible for ankle movement is the subtalar joint.  This joint is formed where the talus and the bone located beneath it, the calcaneus meet.  When these two bones glide over each other, the foot can be moved from side to side.

            The ankle is held together by a series of ligaments.  Ligaments are responsible for connecting bone to bone and for preventing certain movements that could dislocate and/or compromise the joint.

            The inside, or medial, side of the ankle is home to the deltoid ligaments and the calcaneonavicular ligament.  These ligaments connect the tibia to the talus and the calcaneus.  They are responsible for stabilizing the inside arch of the foot, holding the talus in place, and keeping the ankle from collapsing inward.

            The lateral collateral ligaments are found on the outside, or lateral side of the ankle.  The syndesmosis ligaments connect the tibia to the fibula and provide stability at the top of the ankle.  The strongest lateral ligament is the posterior talofibular ligament.  It connects the fibula to the talus and prevents the talus from slipping backwards and externally rotating.  The calcaneofibular ligament connects the fibula to the calcaneus and prevents the foot from twisting too far away from the body, or everting.  The anterior talofibular ligament connects the fibula to the talus, stabilizes the talus, and prevents the foot from twisting too far toward the body, or inverting.  This ligament tends to be the weakest lateral ligament of the ankle.

From Foot Doc
              Next week’s post will discuss ankle sprains, the frequency at which they occur in dancers, their causes, and treatment.