The Role of Muscles in Arch Support of the Foot
Three articles on PainSci cite Basmajian 1963: 1. Massage Therapy for Shin Splints 2. 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 PainScience.com 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.
- “Dynamic support of the human longitudinal arch: a biomechanical evaluation,” Thordarson et al, Clin Orthop, 1995.
- “Plantar fasciitis and the windlass mechanism: a biomechanical link to clinical practice,” Bolgla et al, Journal of Athletic Training, 2004.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.