The Transverse Metatarsal Ligament
When was the last time someone assessed you for pain or a drop in performance and concluded that your primary issue was dysfunction of the transverse metatarsal ligament? If you answered, “never,” you’re probably in good company. Far too often when looking for root causes of pain and dysfunction, we are drawn only to symptomatic areas. If the knee hurts, we call it a knee problem; if the hip hurts, we call it a hip problem. And of course, most doctors and therapists will treat it as such. So what is missing?
In this case, what is often overlooked is the neurological connection between ligaments and muscles. Specifically, every fiber in a ligament corresponds neurologically to a fiber in a muscle. Thus, when a ligament has neurological dysfunction, it will always cause weakness in one or more muscles.
The transverse metatarsal ligament in the foot just so happens to correspond with a number of “anti-gravitational” muscles in the legs and hips. In a healthy functioning ligament, this serves an important purpose: when you bear weight into the foot, the ligament is stretched, and it tells the brain to fire the muscles of the leg necessary to keep you upright. However, when neurological dysfunction exists in the transverse metatarsal ligament, the opposite happens: you transfer weight into the foot and stretch the ligament, and key muscles in the leg and hip go weak.
Now imagine what happens when you run, jump, change directions, or lift weights in this scenario. Just when you need your most powerful hip and leg muscles, they are shutting down, leaving you prone to injury and pain.
I saw two cases last week that fit this description. In both cases, we made numerous corrections to the areas of pain and beyond, and the clients saw immediate improvement. But the problems came back within a few days. It wasn’t until we corrected the dysfunction in the transverse metatarsal ligament that the problems resolved for good.
Complete resolution of pain and dysfunction often requires a lot of detective work. As always, I encourage people not to give up hope if conventional methods of treatment have failed. The body often has the right answers when you know where to look.