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Intrinsic foot muscles act to stabilise the foot when greater fluctuations in centre of pressure movement result from increased postural balance challenge

Ferrari, E and Cooper, G and Reeves, ND and Hodson-Tole, EF (2020) Intrinsic foot muscles act to stabilise the foot when greater fluctuations in centre of pressure movement result from increased postural balance challenge. Gait and Posture, 79. pp. 229-233. ISSN 0966-6362

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Abstract

© 2020 The Author(s) Background: Increased postural balance challenge is associated with more fluctuations in centre of pressure movement, indicating increased interference from the postural control system. The role of intrinsic foot muscles in balance control is relatively understudied and whether such control system interference occurs at the level of these muscles is unknown. Research Question: Do fewer fluctuations in intrinsic foot muscle excitation occur in response to increased postural balance challenge? Methods: Surface EMGs were recorded using a grid of 13 × 5 channels from the plantar surface of the foot of 17 participants, who completed three balance tasks: bipedal stance; single leg stance and bipedal tip-toe. Centre of pressure (CoP) movement was calculated from simultaneously recorded force plate signals. Fluctuations in CoP and EMGs for each task were quantified using a sample entropy based metric, Entropy Halflife (EnHL). Longer EnHL indicates fewer signal fluctuations. Results: The shortest EMG EnHL, 9.27 ± 3.34 ms (median ± interquartile range), occurred during bipedal stance and the longest during bipedal tip-toe 15.46 ± 11.16 ms, with 18.80 ± 8.00 ms recorded for single leg stance. Differences were statistically significant between bipedal stance and both bipedal tip-toe (p < 0.001) and single leg stance (p < 0.001). CoP EnHL for both anterior-posterior and medial-lateral movements also differed significantly between tasks (p < 0.001, both cases). However, anterior-posterior CoP EnHL was longest for bipedal stance 259.84±230.22 ms and shortest for bipedal tip-toe 146.25±73.35 ms. Medial-lateral CoP EnHL was also longest during bipedal stance 215.73±187.58 ms, but shortest for single leg stance 113.48±83.01 ms. Significance: Fewer fluctuations in intrinsic foot muscle excitation occur in response to increased postural balance challenge. Fluctuations in CoP movement during balance must be predominantly driven by excitation of muscles extrinsic to the foot. Intrinsic foot muscles therefore likely play a greater role in stabilisation of the foot than balance control during the postural tasks studied.

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