The immediate effect of plantar stimulation on dynamic and static balance: A randomized controlled trial

Objective: To examine the immediate effect on dynamic and static balance of a manual protocol of plantar stimulation in healthy subjects.

Materials and method: Of the 144 healthy and physically active volunteers recruited, 98 subjects participated. Subjects were randomly assigned and allocated to the experimental group (EG) (n= 50), in which a 10-min manual protocol of plantar stimulation was applied on the right foot, or to the control group (CG) (n= 48). The change scores of the modified Star Excursion Balance Test (mSEBT) and the Unipedal Stance Test (UPST) were used to assess the immediate effect of the protocol on dynamic and static balance, respectively.

Results: In the dynamic balance, a group effect was found in the anterior direction, posteromedial direction and composite scores of the mSEBT when groups were compared by limb. Changes in the posteromedial direction of both limbs (right limb: p= 0.002, left limb: p= 0.05) and composite score of the right limb (p= 0.009) were significantly greater in the EG versus the CG. Non-significant results were found in the static balance (UPST time).

Conclusions: The application of a 10-minute manual stimulation protocol without joint mobilization, addressed to stimulate the plantar cutaneous mechanoreceptors, could elicit benefits on dynamic balance. This improvement was observed bilaterally even though only one plantar surface was stimulated. As balance deficits may impair functional movements and regular training in sports, this intervention aims to ameliorate dynamic balancing ability could improve the functional recovery of sport gestures.

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