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Futrell EE, Roberts D, Toole E. The effects of intrinsic foot muscle strengthening on functional mobility in older adults: A systematic review J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021;70:531-540.
Does intrinsic foot muscle strengthening improve functional mobility among adults aged 65 years old and over?
Falls are the main cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults aged 65 years old and over. Toe deformities and intrinsic foot muscle weakness impact stability, balance, and mobility, and are determinants of falls. Intrinsic foot muscles are muscles within the foot that provide stability and sensory inputs that other foot muscles use to produce large movements. Among healthy older adults, intrinsic foot muscles are often smaller in size and have reduced strength. Exercises that target the intrinsic foot muscles aim to enhance the alignment of the foot and toes, and impact motor control.
This is a systematic review of 9 studies published between 2009 and 2017 that collectively included 1674 people.
Key features of the studies:
Although the included studies were quite different, several themes emerged from the data. In comparison to control groups, intrinsic foot muscle strengthening programs:
The majority of the studies included were of “fair” to “good” quality. Ultimately, more research is needed to confirm the impact of intrinsic foot muscle strengthening on these outcomes, identify the optimal frequency, duration, and length of these exercise programs, and determine whether this is an adequate standalone strategy for functional mobility.
Among older adults 65 years of age and older, intrinsic foot muscle strengthening programs may be effective in improving toe strength, balance, and specific aspects of functional mobility, and may reduce falls.