Effect of the posterior tibial and peroneal longus on the mechanical properties of the foot arch

Background: The mechanical properties of the foot are controlled by many structures including muscles, tendons, ligaments, tarsal joints and bones. Among them, muscles make the dynamic changes of foot alignment, especially the posterior tibial (PT) and peroneal longus (PL) which contribute to maintaining the foot arch. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effect of PT and PL on the foot mechanical properties.

Methods: The mechanical properties with a longitudinal load to the tibia was measured in eight cadaveric feet. The measurement was carried out with absence of tendon traction (control), the presence of isolated traction of each tendon of the PT or PL, and finally after simultaneous traction of both tendons.

Results: The bone displacement significantly decreased with tendon traction. The stiffness significantly increased with PT traction compared to control, and significantly decreased with PL traction and with traction of both tendons. Among the four testing conditions, the energy during loading was least with isolated PT traction. The energy dissipation rate was significantly increased with PL traction and with traction on both tendons, whereas no significant difference existed with PT traction compared to control.

Conclusions: The PT increased the stiffness and reduces the energy stored in the foot. The PT acted to improve the energy efficiency of the load transmission. The PL decreased the stiffness and increased the energy stored.

Clinical relevance: PT and PL muscles affect the foot arch. Excessive or insufficient traction may cause some foot disorders.

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