Effect of foot orthotics on quadriceps and gluteus medius electromyographic activity during selected exercises

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Jan;86(1):26-30. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2004.03.029.


Objective: To compare electromyographic activity of the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and gluteus medius during functional activities in subjects with different foot types while wearing various off-the-shelf foot orthotics.

Design: Experimental, controlled; 3 foot-type groups (pes planus, pes cavus, pes rectus) each tested in 4 orthotic conditions while performing 3 different exercises.

Setting: Laboratory.

Participants: Thirty healthy young adults, 10 with each foot type.

Interventions: Four conditions: no orthotic, 7 degrees medial rearfoot post, 4 degrees lateral rearfoot post, and neutral rearfoot post.

Main outcome measure: Surface electromyographic activity for the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and gluteus medius during single-leg squatting, lateral stepdown, and maximum vertical jump exercises.

Results: Greater vastus medialis and gluteus medius activity was found with all 3 orthotic conditions, regardless of subject foot type, during the single-leg squat and lateral stepdown. Less vastus lateralis activity was found with the vertical jump with all orthotic conditions, again regardless of foot type.

Conclusions: During slow controlled exercises such as the single-leg squat and lateral stepdown, vastus medialis and gluteus medius activity may be enhanced with an off-the-shelf orthotic, regardless of posting or foot type. These same findings do not appear to carry over to a more explosive task such as the maximal vertical jump.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buttocks
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Foot Deformities / physiopathology*
  • Foot*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Thigh
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology