The potential of toe flexor muscles to enhance performance

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


The metatarsal phalangeal joint (MPJ) and its crossing toe flexor muscles (TFM) represent the link between the large energy generating leg extensor muscles and the ground. The purpose of this study was to examine the functional adaptability of TFM to increased mechanical stimuli and the effects on walking, running and jumping performance. Fifteen men performed a heavy resistance TFM strength training with 90% of the maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) for 7 weeks (560 contractions) for the left and right foot. Maximal MPJ and ankle plantar flexion moments during MVICs were measured in dynamometers before and after the intervention. Motion analyses (inverse dynamics) were performed during barefoot walking, running, and vertical and horizontal jumping. Athletic performance was determined by measuring jump height and distance. Left (0.21 to 0.38 Nm · kg(-1); P < 0.001) and right (0.24 to 0.40 Nm · kg(-1); P < 0.001) MPJ plantar flexion moments in the dynamometer, external MPJ dorsiflexion moments (0.69 to 0.75 Nm · kg(-1); P = 0.012) and jump distance (2.25 to 2.31 m; P = 0.006) in horizontal jumping increased significantly. TFM responded highly to increased loading within a few weeks. The increased force potential made a contribution to an athlete's performance enhancement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)424-433
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2013

Research areas and keywords

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance
  • Foot
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Joints
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Resistance Training
  • Running
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Toes
  • Walking
  • Young Adult


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