The “Top-End” Peroneal Walk Foot Skill: Another Restoration Foot Trick by The Gait Guys

Have stability problems in your ankles ? Lots of people do !
Here is a brief video of a simple, but difficult, functional exercise to strengthen the peroneal muscles in full plantar flexion (we will give more detailed tricks and techniques away on the Foot-Ankle DVD exercise series, once we get some time to get to it !). The key here is to not let the heel drop during single fore-foot loading and to keep the ankle pressing inwards as if to try and touch the ankles together medially …..if you feel the heel drop on the single foot loaded side (or you can feel the calf is weaker or if you feel strain to keep the inward press of the ankle) then it might be more than the peronei, it could be the combined peroneal-gastrocsoleus complex. The key to the assessment and home work is to make sure that the heel always stays in “top-end” heel rise plantarflexion. But you have to strongly consider the peronei just as seriously. Studies show that even single event sprains let alone chronic ankle sprains create serious incompetence of the peronei. Most people do not notice this because they never assess the ability to hold the foot in full heel rise (plantarflexion) while creating a valgus load (created by the peronei mostly, a less amount from the lateral calf) at the ankle. This is why repetitive sprains occur. The true key to recovery is to be able to walk on the foot in this heel-up “top-end” position while in ankle eversion (ankles squeezed together) as you see in this video. This is something we do with all of our basketball and jumping sports athletes and it is critical in our dancers of all kinds. And if they cannot do the walking skill or if they feel weakness then we keep it static and put a densely rolled towel or a small air filled ball between the ankles and have them do slow calf raises and descents while squeezing the towel-ball with all their ability. This will create a nice burn in the peroneal muscles after just a few repetitions. The user will also quickly become acutely aware of their old tendency to roll to the outside of the foot and ankle because of this lack of awareness and strength of those laterally placed ankle evertors - the peronei. It is critical to note that If you return to the ground from a jump and cannot FIRST load the forefoot squarely and then, and only then, control the rate of ankle inversion and neutral heel drop (ankle dorsiflexion) then you should not be shocked at chronic repetitive ankle sprains. Remember, the metatarsals and toes are shorter as we move away from the big toe, so there is already a huge risk and tendency to roll to the outside of the foot through ankle inversion. Hence why ankle sprains are so common. We call this “top end” peroneal strength but for it to be effectively implemented one must have sufficient top end calf strength as well, you cannot have sound loading mechanics without both.
It is not as easy as it appears in this video. We encourage you to give this a try and we bet that 1 out of every 2 people who try it will notice “top end” weakness felt either in the peronei and/or in the calf via inability to keep the heel in “top-end”. Oh, and do not think that you can simply correct this by more calf work, not if the peronei are involved, which they usually are.
One more trick by The Gait Guys………bet you cannot wait for the foot dvd huh !? Ya, it has only been on our list for 3 years now !
 We talk more about this kind of stuff on our National Shoe Fit Certification program.
Email us if you are interested