How important are the small muscles in the foot?

There are many small muscles under the bottom of the foot and probably because of their size they have not been given much importance. This has started to change recently has research has begun to show just how important those muscles are to normal function and biomechanics of the foot. They appear to play an important roll in how we balance and problems with these small muscles is probably a factor in most of the toe deformities. This topic was addressed in a recent episode of the podiatry chat show that goes out live on Facebook called PodChatLive. In that episode the hosts talked with Luke Kelly who has published extensively in the field of plantar intrinsic foot muscle function and just how important they are. He talked about the spring-like function of the human foot when walking and the role of those muscles in that. He also talked about why it is false to assume a flatter foot is a “weaker” foot. He also explains why he is personally not a fan of the ‘short foot exercise’ and just why strengthening the intrinsic muscles will never make the medial longitudinal arch ‘higher’ which is widely believed myth.

Dr Luke Kelly PhD has over fifteen years of clinical experience helping people with pain due to musculoskeletal injury and chronic health conditions. He has completed a PhD in biomechanics and is actively involved in research that attempts to improve our understanding and management of common foot conditions, such as plantar heel pain, foot tendon injuries, osteoarthritis in the foot and children’s sporting injuries. He currently is a Senior Research Fellow within the Centre for Sensorimotor Performance in the School of Human Movement & Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia. Luke’s current research is examining how the brain and spinal cord integrates sensory feedback to adapt the mechanical function of the foot during walking.