Influence of extrinsic plantar flexors on forefoot loading during heel rise

This investigation studied the effects of simulated plantar flexor muscle activity on forefoot loading using a static cadaver model. Nine cadaver feet were mounted in an apparatus in the heel rise position. Using computer-controlled and pneumatic actuators, forces were simultaneously applied to the tendons of the triceps surae, flexor hallucis longus, flexor digitorum longus, peroneus brevis and longus, and tibialis posterior until 750 N of ground reaction force was achieved, at which time forefoot plantar pressure patterns were captured immediately with a pedobarograph. Second metatarsal bending moments were calculated from strain gauge data collected concurrently. Consecutive loading cycles were performed with sequential elimination of simulated muscle force from each tendon except the Achilles. Loss of simulated flexor hallucis longus activity significantly decreased great toe contact forces and significantly increased forces under the forefoot. Simulated loss of both the flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum longus caused significant decreases in contact area, pressure, and force beneath the toes and significant increases in contact area and force under the forefoot. Bending moments in the second metatarsal were shown to vary directly with peak pressure under the second metatarsal head (r = 0.801). These findings demonstrate the load distributing function of the extrinsic plantar flexors during heel rise.

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