What are the peroneal muscles?
The lower leg is made up of lots of muscles that help stabilise the ankle. This includes the peroneal muscles, these are a group of three muscles including the peroneus longus, peroneus brevis and peroneus tertius; these muscles run down the lateral (outside) of the lower leg and control planter flexion (movement of the foot downwards) and eversion (movement of the foot outwards). The peroneus longus is the most superficial (closest to the skin) of the peroneal muscles and is usually the muscle that causes the most discomfort in ski boots.
The peroneal muscles are used in daily life in activities such as walking, and pain is usually caused by overuse. Other aetiology for pain can include tight calf muscles, over pronation and flexion of the feet – the motion that engages the ski boot to enable you to ski. The constant pressure over the shin and tensing of the foot inside the ski boot can also cause the muscle to become tight and painful. The peroneal muscles insert (attach) onto the first metatarsal and with the eversion movement of the foot and planting of the first metatarsal when turning and edging will cause the peroneal muscles to tense and become strained.
Peroneal tendon tears are more common than you would think in ski boots and occur when there is a strong unexpected twisting movement, this is more likely to happen if the ski boot is too big, so ensuring that the heel and ankle are firmly held is important. Another risk factor is if you have a high arched foot so ensuring the foot is well supported by a good insole as this will support and stabilize the foot.
Profeet Advice: Ways to help prevent Peroneal pain
There are ways of helping this in ski boots which we can do in our Ski Boot Lab; flattening out the tongue and/or adding a tongue pad to the inside of the liner tongue to bring more contact to the medial side and even out the pressure.
The most effective way of solving the pain is by stretching and foam rolling the muscle itself. Foam rolling will release the tightness and muscular tension making you more comfortable inside the ski boot. It also helps with increasing mobility and flexibility, so it is also recommended rolling out your calves too. Having no pain in the shins will allow you to flex into the front of the boot and engage it properly, leading to better power transmission to the skis.
Below are some exercises that are recommended if you have tight peroneal muscles: