This post was based on the following article, referenced:
Sulowska, I., Oleksy, Ł., Mika, A., Bylina, D., & Sołtan, J. (2016). The Influence of Plantar Short Foot Muscle Exercises on Foot Posture and Fundamental Movement Patterns in Long-Distance Runners, a Non-Randomized, Non-Blinded Clinical Trial. PLoS ONE, 11(6), e0157917. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157917
A recent study from the University of Physical Education in Krakow, Poland has allowed researchers to observe the effects of dynamic stability exercises in the foot posture and gait patterns of amateur long-distance runners. Incorrect foot posture has been identified as a risk factor for injury in the field, which is especially a concern for long distance runners in which the foot is exposed to prolonged loading. A group of 48 long-distance runners was instructed to perform a set of daily exercises for 6 weeks: Vele’s Forward Lean, Reverse Tandem Gait, and Short Food Exercise which aim to improve motor control of the muscles and posture of the foot.
The athletes, ranging in age from 21-45, were assessed before the 6-week period as a baseline and at the end of the 6-week period to observe effects the exercises. The Foot Posture Index (FPI-6) was used to assess both the fore and rearfoot. This assessment is known in the field to be highly repeatable and thusly a reliable method of foot assessment. In addition to the FPI-6, the G-WALK from BTS Bioengineering was used. Temporal-Spatial paraments, the symmetry of motion, as well as propulsion and pelvic movements were assessed and observed with the G-Sensor and software of the G-WALK system. The G-Sensor’s integration of triaxial accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes facilitated the detection of gait pattern components. For each assessment, the athlete performed the Gait Protocol in which the athletes were asked to walk 70 meters. Speed, cadence, length of step and stride, the width of step, symmetry, propulsion and pelvic mobility in addition to the duration of the full gait cycle, support phase, swing phase, single support phase and double support phase were identified through the G-Studio software. The G-WALK was paced on the L-5 (fifth lumbar vertebra) and secured with the specially-designed belt for the wireless acquisition which avoids interference with natural gait of the athlete.
It was found that after 6-weeks of the exercises, foot posture was improved. Additionally, from the G-WALK data, athletes had significantly lower walking speed, cadence, and stride length. A longer duration of the gait cycle was observed. The reports of these data were the first of its kind in the field for a connection between foot posture, dynamic stability exercise, and changes in gait patterns. Authors of the study conclude that the exercise significantly improved the posture of the foot from pronation to neutral position and that the changes in the gait pattern after implementation of the exercise regimen “may indicate improvement in motor control and shift of the comfortable natural walking speed towards lower values.” The authors recommended that such exercises, specifically regarding the activation of the short planter muscles, should be incorporated into daily training and maintained for long-distance runners. The results of this study which used the G-WALK in conjunction with other assessment systems has demonstrated the potential for such technologies to make significant impacts on the function and performance of athletes.
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