Strain measurement in lateral ankle ligaments

M. R. Colville, Richard A Marder, J. J. Boyle, B. Zarins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


We measured strain in the lateral ligaments of 10 human cadaver ankles while moving the ankle joint and applying stress in a variety of ways. We studied the anterior talofibular, calcaneofibular, posterior talofibular, anterior tibiofibular, and posterior tibiofibular ligaments. Strain measurements in the ligaments were recorded continuously while the ankle was moved from dorsiflexion into plantar flexion. We then repeated measurements while applying inversion, eversion, internal rotation, and external rotation forces. Strain in the anterior talofibular ligament increased when the ankle was moved into greater degrees of plantar flexion, internal rotation, and inversion. Strain in the calcaneofibular ligament increased as the talus was dorsiflexed and inverted. These findings support the concept that the anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments function together at all positions of ankle flexion to provide lateral ankle stability. We measured maximum strain in the posterior talofibular ligament when the ankle was dorsiflexed and externally rotated. The strain in the anterior and posterior tibiofibular ligaments increased when the ankle was dorsiflexed. External rotation increased strain in the anterior tibiofibular ligament and decreased strain in the posterior tibiofibular ligament. Based upon strain measurements in the lateral ankle ligaments in various ankle joint positions, we believe the anterior talofibular ligament is most likely to tear if the ankle is inverted in plantar flexion and internally rotated. Theoretically, the calcaneofibular ligament tears primarily in inversion if the ankle is dorsiflexed; the anterior tibiofibular ligament tears in dorsiflexion, especially if combined with external rotation; and the posterior tibiofibular ligament tears with extreme dorsiflexion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-200
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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