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Wearing footwear with toe springs requires less muscle work

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by NewsBot, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
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    NEWS RELEASE 17-SEP-2020
    Biomechanics: Wearing footwear with toe springs requires less muscle work

    Wearing footwear with an upward curvature at the front of the shoe - known as the toe spring - requires less work from the muscles of the feet to walk than shoes with a flatter sole, according to an experimental study published in Scientific Reports.

    Toe springs keep the toes continually elevated above the ground in a flexed upwards position to help the front part of the foot roll forward when walking or running and are present in most modern athletic shoes, but their effect on natural foot function and vulnerability of the feet to injury has not been widely studied.

    Freddy Sichting and colleagues from Harvard University, the Chemnitz University of Technology and Buffalo University investigated the effects of toe springs on foot biomechanics using a controlled experiment in which 13 participants walked barefoot on a treadmill at a comfortable walking pace. The participants were then asked to repeat the process wearing four different pairs of specially designed sandals with varying upward curvature of the toe region in order to simulate the curvature of modern athletic footwear. 3D motion data were captured using markers placed on each subject's knee, ankle and foot.

    The authors found that toe springs decrease the work of the muscles around the joints that connect the toes to the foot bones. The higher the upwards curve of the toes in respect to the rest of the foot, the less work the foot muscles had to perform to support the joints when walking.

    The findings explain why toe springs are so comfortable and popular but suggest that shoes with toe springs may contribute to weakening of the foot muscles with long-term use. This may increase susceptibility to common pathological conditions such as plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes, according to the authors.
     
  2. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
    Effect of the upward curvature of toe springs on walking biomechanics in humans
    Freddy Sichting, Nicholas B. Holowka, Oliver B. Hansen & Daniel E. Lieberman
    Scientific Reports volume 10, Article number: 14643 (2020)
     
  3. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Articles:
    8
    "suggest that toe springs may contribute to weakening of the foot muscles and possibly to increased susceptibility to common pathological conditions such as plantar fasciitis."

    Nope.
     
  4. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Articles:
    1
  5. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Articles:
    8
  6. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Related to the above , my understanding is that rocker bottom shoes are often prescribed in conditions were ulceration is a problem beneath the met heads .

    Question ; What happens to the plantar intrinsics in these patients ?
    I have looked but can't find any study that looks into this .
    Having an answer might be important .
     
  7. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Can toe springs inhibit foot function and potential lead to planter fasciitis , I think so , yes ,and here is why .

    As far as I am aware I am first to talk of two windlass phases as distinct to the windlass and reverse windlass of Hick around toe off .

    The initial windlass phase starts when the toes dorsiflex after the foot has left the ground and concludes as the toes are lowered to the ground during weight acceptance .

    This lowering process likely has a profound effect on the rate at which the tissues of the foot , and the plantar fascia in particular , are loaded and so will very likely affect injury rates .

    Toe springs will limit toe range of motion during loading and so lessen the effect of the mechanism . The larger the toe spring angle the greater the reduction in the mechanisms effect .

    This will happen independently of intrinsic muscle strength . Simple physics backs up the concept .
     
  8. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    In 2014 Luke Kelly produced his excellent Phd thesis . One of the chapters was titled

    " CHAPTER FOUR – INTRINSIC FOOT MUSCLES HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CONTROL DEFORMATION OF THE LONGITUDIUNAL ARCH"

    But do toe springs affect the mechanics of this "capacity to control" ;I would certainly think so .

    If you look at Kelly's rig for applying increased force to the foot you can see the foot is flat on the force plate . When the studied intrinsics contract the toes are pushed onto the plate ,but what if the plate only extended up to the MTPJ ? That is to say the plate is under the heel, MTPJ and rest of the foot but not the toes which are free to plantarflex unimpeded . In this set up the toes would have nothing to push against and so the muscles would effectively have no insertion point and so could not generate force to control arch deformation .

    If an individual puts on a pair of training shoes with a toe spring , stands on one leg and consciously pushes the toes of the standing leg down , the front of the shoe is pressed towards the ground . Thus the point of insertion of the intrinsics on the toes moves giving a reduced capacity for the intrinsics to control deformation of the arch .

    If intrinsic muscle activity helps reduce strain in the plantar fascia during constant weight shifting in standing workers ,then in the way described above , might this protective role be impeded by toe springs ?

    Any thoughts ?
     
  9. toomoon

    toomoon Well-Known Member

  10. scotfoot

    scotfoot Well-Known Member

    Hi Simon
    Could the design features of modern shoes impact significantly and detrimentally on rate of loading of the soft tissues on the plantar aspect of the foot in the way outlined in posts #7 and #8 ?
    That is can toe springs and rocker bottoms ,which hold the toes "out of contact" with the ground , interfere with their role in foot mechanics ?
    Gerry
     
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