A specific training program emphasizing the neuromuscular recruitment of the plantar intrinsic foot muscles, colloquially referred to as "short foot" exercise (SFE) training, has been suggested as a means to dynamically support the medial longitudinal arch (MLA) during functional tasks. A single-group repeated measures pre- and post-intervention study design was utilized to determine if a 4-week intrinsic foot muscle training program would impact the amount of navicular drop (ND), increase the arch height index (AHI), improve performance during a unilateral functional reaching maneuver, or the qualitative assessment of the ability to hold the arch position in single limb stance position in an asymptomatic cohort. 21 asymptomatic subjects (42 feet) completed the 4-week SFE training program. Subject ND decreased by a mean of 1.8 mm at 4 weeks and 2.2 mm at 8 weeks (p < 0.05). AHI increased from 28 to 29% (p < 0.05). Intrinsic foot muscle performance during a static unilateral balancing activity improved from a grade of fair to good (p < 0.001) and subjects experienced a significant improvement during a functional balance and reach task in all directions with the exception of an anterior reach (p < 0.05). This study offers preliminary evidence to suggest that SFE training may have value in statically and dynamically supporting the MLA. Further research regarding the value of this exercise intervention in foot posture type or pathology specific patient populations is warranted.
Keywords: Medial longitudinal arch; Navicular drop; Plantar intrinsic foot muscles; Short foot exercise.
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