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The Role of Muscles in Arch Support of the Foot

PainSci » bibliography » Basmajian et al 1963
Tags: etiology, biomechanics, plantar fasciitis, fun, muscle, pro, foot, leg, limbs, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, tendinosis

Three articles on PainSci cite Basmajian 1963: 1. Massage Therapy for Shin Splints2. Massage Therapy for Tired Feet (and Plantar Fasciitis!)3. Complete Guide to Plantar Fasciitis

PainSci commentary on Basmajian 1963: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This 1963 experiment showed that muscles in the arch of the foot only “kick in” under quite heavy loads: about 400 pounds. Although that sounds like quite a lot, loading may spike that high in an average person with every step, so the strength and responsiveness of the arch muscles may still be routinely important. We don’t have muscles there for nothing, of course. Nevertheless, this study pretty clearly shows that “the first line of defense” against arch collapse is the shape of the bones, the elasticity of ligaments, and probably the “stirrup” tendons from leg muscles (see Thordarson) — but not so much the strength of the arch muscles.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Simultaneous electromyography of six muscles in the leg and foot in twenty subjects reveals that only heavy loading elicits muscle activity. Loads of 100 to 200 pounds on one foot are borne easily by passive structures (ligaments and bones) that support the arches. With 400 pounds, the muscles do come into play, but even then many remain inactive. The first line of defense of the arches is ligamentous. The muscles form a dynamic reserve, called upon reflexly by excessive loads, including the take-off phase in walking.

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