Int J Sports Med 2013; 34(05): 438-443
DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1321893
Orthopedics & Biomechanics
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Wide-Pulse Electrical Stimulation to an Intrinsic Foot Muscle Induces Acute Functional Changes in Forefoot–Rearfoot Coupling Behaviour during Walking

D. C. James
1   Department of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom
T. Chesters
2   Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
D. P. Sumners
1   Department of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom
D. P. Cook
1   Department of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom
D. A. Green
2   Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
K. N. Mileva
1   Department of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision 02 July 2012

Publication Date:
11 October 2012 (online)


Interventions for strengthening intrinsic foot muscles may be beneficial for rehabilitation from overuse injuries. In this study the acute effects of high-frequency, low-intensity wide-pulse electrical stimulation (WPS) over an intrinsic muscle on subsequent foot function during walking was assessed in healthy participants. WPS was delivered to the m. abductor hallucis (m.AH) of the non-dominant foot during relaxed standing. 3-dimensional forefoot (FF) – rearfoot (RF) coordination was quantified with a vector coding technique within separate periods of the stance phase to study WPS functional effects on foot motion. 4 types of coordinative strategies between the FF and RF were interpreted and compared PRE-to-POST-WPS for both the experimental and control feet. Bilateral electromyography (EMG) from m.AH was analysed during the intervention period for evidence of acute neuromuscular adaptation. The results showed that WPS significantly modulated FF-RF coordination during mid-stance, indicative of a more stable foot. Specifically, a statistically significant increase in FF eversion with concomitant RF inversion in the frontal plane and RF-dominated adduction in the transverse plane was observed. Subject-specific increases in post-stimulus m.AH EMG activation were observed but this was not reflected in an overall group effect. It is concluded that the structural integrity of the foot during walking is enhanced following an acute session of WPS and that this mechanical effect is most likely due to stimulation induced post-tetanic potentiation of synaptic transmission.

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