Foot Ligaments

Overview

What are foot ligaments?

Foot ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect various bones in your foot. The ligaments in your foot help stabilize it. They also provide necessary support to the arches in your feet.

Because there are so many bones in the foot, there are also numerous ligaments connecting them. Some of the main ligaments in the foot are:

  • Plantar fascia ligament: Runs underneath your foot from the heel to the base of your toes.
  • Plantar calcaneonavicular ligament (spring ligament): A strong ligament that connects bones in the ankle and foot, gives your arch structure and helps support your body weight.
  • Calcaneocuboid ligament: Connects your heel bone to your tarsal bones that make up your foot’s arch.
  • Lisfranc ligaments: Located beneath the Lisfranc joint in the midfoot.

What are ligaments?

Ligaments are bands of fibers interconnected in strong, cord-like ropes. In your feet, ligaments attach bones to each other. You have ligaments all over your body that hold bones together. Some ligaments also support internal organs.

Function

What is the purpose of the foot ligaments?

The primary purpose of the foot ligaments is to stabilize and support the arch. The arch is formed by bones, ligaments and tendons. The arch gives shape and structure to your foot.

Foot ligaments help support your body’s weight. They also absorb the impact your body feels with every step.

Anatomy

Where are the foot ligaments located?

Foot ligaments run throughout your foot. Ligaments connect all 26 bones in each foot. Different foot ligaments:

  • Run from your toes to your heel, supporting your arch.
  • Crisscross to connect the tarsal bones in your arch.
  • Connect the metatarsals (the long bones that lead to your toes).

Conditions and Disorders

What conditions are most likely to affect the foot ligaments?

Just like other ligaments in the body, foot ligaments can stretch, strain or even tear. Foot ligament sprains are less common than injuries affecting the ankle ligaments. Sports that involve quick twisting motions — like basketball, soccer, football or dancing — increase the risk of foot ligament injuries.

What is a ligament sprain?

You can sprain a ligament in your foot by twisting your foot or rolling your ankle. These injuries often occur along with an ankle sprain.

Foot ligament sprains are graded 1, 2 or 3, depending on the amount of damage to the ligament:

  • Grade 1 sprain: The ligament is stretched and may have microscopic tears.
  • Grade 2 sprain: The ligament is partially torn.
  • Grade 3 sprain: The ligament is completely torn.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia) is the most common foot ligament injury. It’s also the most common cause of heel pain.

The plantar fascia ligament stretches along the bottom of your foot from your heel. When the plantar fascia ligament overstretches or tears, the inflammation leads to pain on the bottom of the heel.

Who is most likely to experience plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis affects an estimated 2 million people per year.

You put stress on your plantar fascia ligament with each step you take. Anyone can get plantar fasciitis, but certain factors increase your risk:

  • High arches in your feet.
  • Obesity.
  • Repetitive, high-impact motion (like running).
  • Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

What is a Lisfranc injury?

A Lisfranc injury is also called a midfoot injury because it occurs in the Lisfranc joint in the middle of your foot. Falling or twisting your ankle can break the bones in the Lisfranc joint and tear ligaments.

Severe Lisfranc injuries may require surgery to repair fractured bones and torn ligaments. For less severe sprains, you may still need to wear a cast or boot on the affected foot and keep your weight off it for several weeks.

Care

How can I keep my foot ligaments healthy?

To prevent foot ligament injuries, it’s important to strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize your ankle. Foot ligament strains often happen when you roll or twist an unstable, weak ankle.

Other prevention measures include:

  • Slowly increasing the duration and intensity of activity over time.
  • Mixing your activities to avoid repetitive motions.
  • Wearing well-cushioned shoes that support the arch of your foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to Call a Doctor

You should call your provider if you experience:

  • Inability to put weight on your foot.
  • Pain or swelling in your foot after rolling your ankle.
  • Pain in your heel.
  • Tenderness under the arch of your foot.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your feet contain dozens of ligaments. These tough bands of tissue connect the many bones of the foot. They also stabilize your foot and provide support for your arches. Inflammation or tears in any of the foot ligaments can cause pain. Most foot ligament injuries heal with rest and nonsurgical treatments.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/25/2021.

References

  • Arthritis Foundation. Anatomy of the Foot. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/where-it-hurts/anatomy-of-the-foot (https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/where-it-hurts/anatomy-of-the-foot) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • Foot Health Facts. Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/heel-pain-(plantar-fasciitis) (https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/heel-pain-(plantar-fasciitis%29) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • OrthoInfo. Sprained Ankle. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/sprained-ankle/ (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/sprained-ankle/) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • OrthoInfo. Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • OrthoInfo. Lisfranc (Midfoot) Injury. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/lisfranc-midfoot-injury/ (https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/lisfranc-midfoot-injury/) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • Orthopaedia. Anatomy of the Foot and Ankle. https://orthopaedia.com/page/Anatomy-of-the-Foot-Ankle (https://orthopaedia.com/page/Anatomy-of-the-Foot-Ankle) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • Physiopedia. Spring Ligament. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Spring_Ligament (https://www.physio-pedia.com/Spring_Ligament) Accessed 6/3/2021.
  • Radiopaedia. Calcaneocuboid Joint. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/calcaneocuboid-joint (https://radiopaedia.org/articles/calcaneocuboid-joint) Accessed 6/3/2021.

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