The deltoid ligament has not been mentioned for the first time in the sportscast history.

Recently, the Italian athlete Tamberi was the one who paid the price for it. In the past, it was the turn of Cannavaro too, during the European Championship in Switzerland.

Deltoid ligament, what is it, where and when it can be torn?

First of all, it is an ankle ligament, positioned inside, between the tibial malleolus and the talus bone. It is composed by a superficial and a deep layer, and this makes it extremely firm.

In fact, if we think about the lateral ankle ligaments (anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligament), the comparison is unequal. These last ones often tear, even with the most simple injuries.

This does not happen to the deltoid ligament, which can be torn only because of very serious injuries, often associated to a malleolar fracture.

The deltoid ligament in high jump

Of course, there are more risky sport activities, and high jump is one of them.

In fact, if we watch a jumper’s run-up in slow motion, we will notice that before the takeoff, his front foot is being stimulated on maximum pronation. It is as if the hindfoot became flat beyond limits, by provoking an almost innatural valgus deformity in the ankle, then exploding in the jump.

I think the example I often give to my patients is more valid than ever: when prone (by becoming flat), the foot acts like a spring, accumulating the potential energy to be emanated in the propelling phase when it gets hollow.

Gianmarco Tamberi’s case

This is why Gianmarco Tamberi needs a totally wholesome deltoid ligament in order to jump beyond 2.38 metres!

Gianmarco will go back to jumping, as Gigi Buffon tweeted, but it will not be easy!

The first thing to do is surgery which, when necessary, is often insidious. In fact, finding a good-quality tissue can be a challenge for the surgeon. The alternative option would be resorting to allograft (donor tendons used as ligaments) or synthetic replacement. In any case, the secret is giving a correct tension to the newly-formed ligament!

The deltoid ligament can obviously be affected in ankles with an excessive valgus deformity and in pathological flat feet, without a real trauma.

In these particular cases the cause is the bone deformity, and a simple reconstruction of the ligament is not the solution: it must be associated with a correction of the bone deformity.

We are dealing with interventions which are far more complicated than the isolated reconstruction, whose long-term endurance can still be considered as a question mark.

It would have been great to see Tamberi jump in Rio, we are waiting for his victory in 4-years’ time!

For Gianmarco Tamberi’s picture, we thank: Herbert Kratky /