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Foot Muscle Strengthening and Lower Limb Injury Prevention

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Carla van der Merwe; Sarah P Shultz;G Robert Colborne; Philip W Fink


Background and objectives: The active and passive structures of the foot act in unison to not only be compliant enough to assist in ground reaction force attenuation but also resist deformation to provide a stable base of support. A foot that is unable to adjust to the imposed demands during high-intensity sporting activities may alter the moments and forces acting on the joints, increasing the risk of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament ruptures (ACLR) and lateral ankle sprains (LAS). Prophylactic strengthening programs are often used to reduce the risk of these injuries, but at present, very few prophylactic programs include foot-specific strengthening strategies. The aim of this theoretical review is to ascertain the prophylactic role strengthening muscles acting on the foot may have on ACLR and LAS injury risk. Methods: Literature relating to risk factors associated with ACLR and LAS injury and the anatomy and biomechanics of normal foot function was searched. In addition, ACLR and LAS injury prevention programs were also sought. A theoretical, narrative approach was followed to synthesize the information gathered from the articles. Results: The foot segments are governed by the congruity of the articulations and the activity of the foot muscles. As such, there is a coupling effect between shank, calcaneus, midfoot, and hallux movement which play a role in both ACLR and LAS injury risk. Conclusions: Strengthening the muscles acting on the foot may have a significant impact on ACLR and LAS injury risk.


van der Merwe C, Shultz SP, Colborne GR, Fink PW. Foot Muscle Strengthening and Lower Limb Injury Prevention [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 7]. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2020;1-8. doi:10.1080/02701367.2020.1739605


Ankle sprain; anterior cruciate ligament; athletic injury; biomechanics; foot

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