The effect of interventions anticipated to improve plantar intrinsic foot muscle strength on fall-related dynamic function in adults: A systematic review

Lydia Willemse*, Eveline J. M. Wouters, Henk M. Bronts, Martijn F. Pisters, Benedicte Vanwanseele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background:
The plantar intrinsic foot muscles (PIFMs) have a role in dynamic functions, such as balance and propulsion, which are vital to walking. These muscles atrophy in older adults and therefore this population, which is at high risk to falling, may benefit from strengthening these muscles in order to improve or retain their gait performance. Therefore, the aim was to provide insight in the evidence for the effect of interventions anticipated to improve PIFM strength on dynamic balance control and foot function during gait in adults.

Methods:
A systematic literature search was performed in five electronic databases. The eligibility of peer-reviewed papers, published between January 1, 2010 and July 8, 2020, reporting controlled trials and pre-post interventional studies was assessed by two reviewers independently. Results from moderate- and high-quality studies were extracted for data synthesis by summarizing the standardized mean differences (SMD). The GRADE approach was used to assess the certainty of evidence.

Results:
Screening of 9199 records resulted in the inclusion of 11 articles of which five were included for data synthesis. Included studies were mainly performed in younger populations. Low-certainty evidence revealed the beneficial effect of PIFM strengthening exercises on vertical ground reaction force (SMD: − 0.31-0.37). Very low-certainty evidence showed that PIFM strength training improved the performance on dynamic balance testing (SMD: 0.41–1.43). There was no evidence for the effect of PIFM strengthening exercises on medial longitudinal foot arch kinematics.

Conclusions:
This review revealed at best low-certainty evidence that PIFM strengthening exercises improve foot function during gait and very low-certainty evidence for its favorable effect on dynamic balance control. There is a need for high-quality studies that aim to investigate the effect of functional PIFM strengthening exercises in large samples of older adults. The outcome measures should be related to both fall risk and the role of the PIFMs such as propulsive forces and balance during locomotion in addition to PIFM strength measures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Foot and Ankle Research
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • AGE
  • ANKLE
  • Balance
  • EXCURSION BALANCE TEST
  • EXERCISE PROGRAM
  • Exercise therapy
  • Falling
  • GAIT
  • Gait
  • Intrinsic foot musculature
  • MORPHOLOGY
  • OLDER-PEOPLE
  • POSTURAL-CONTROL
  • RISK-FACTORS
  • TOE FLEXOR STRENGTH

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