Runners continually place strain on the joints and tissues of the lower body, and an intense or poorly designed training schedule, or improper running technique, might damage the tissues in your feet or legs. Your superior extensor retinaculum is the ligament that runs along the top of your foot, stabilizes other ligaments in you feet, and supports the feet movements that occur during running. Pain in this ligament might signal the presence of tissue damage, and ignoring the pain might lead to further injury.
Importance of Foot and Ankle Stability in Running
The foot and ankle stability associated with a healthy superior extensor retinaculum is essential for supporting your body when you run. During each foot strike, your foot rotates slightly to help absorb shock and allow you to move forward. The tendons and ligaments in your foot help ensure that your feet and ankles do not over-rotate, helping to prevent an injury. Ankle and foot stability is especially important during off-track running, when uneven ground and natural elements such as stones increase your risk of ankle injury.
Interaction with Other Ligaments
The superior extensor retinaculum also interacts with tendons in your lower body, so injury and pain to this ligament might have other effects. A study published in "American Journal of Roentgenology" in 2006 studied the superior extensor retinaculum and surrounding tissues of cadavers, and found that injuries to the superior extensor retinaculum were related to injuries in the tibialis anterior tendon, which connects to your shin muscles. As a result, if you ignore pain in your superior extensor retinaculum and experience a ligament rupture or tear, you might face increased risk of damage to the tendons and muscles that run along your shins.
Signs of Injury and Effect on Muscles
The pain experienced with a superior extensor retinaculum injury is typically localized along the front of the foot and ankle. In some cases, damage to the ligament might affect muscle movement, preventing a full range of motion at your ankle. Since the superior extensor retinaculum interacts with tendons connected to your shin muscles, you might also notice abnormal muscle functioning in your shins. If you continue to run even when you're in pain, the ligaments' effect on your muscle function might further contribute to injury.
If you feel pain in your superior extensor retinaculum when you run, you must seek medical attention. Continuing to run can further aggravate your ligament, eventually damaging other tissues in your foot, ankle and leg. A licensed professional can recommend a series of exercises designed to improve your foot and ankle strength while allowing the ligament to heal, so you can eventually continue with your running program without causing injury.