Plantar intrinsic foot muscle activation during functional exercises compared to isolated foot exercises in younger adults

Review written by Dr Melinda Smith info

Key Points

  1. This study used surface electromyography (EMG) to compare muscle activation of three plantar intrinsic foot muscles during isolated foot exercises and functional exercises.
All key points available for members only


In both clinical and research settings there has been a rapid increase in the use of intrinsic foot muscle training. This is not surprising considering biomechanical evidence that the intrinsic foot muscles make important contributions to foot function, as well as reports that altered intrinsic foot muscle size and strength has been associated with aging, lower extremity musculoskeletal conditions and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

With the goal to facilitate better design of exercise interventions that target the intrinsic foot muscles, the aim of this study was to compare the activation of plantar intrinsic foot muscles between functional exercises and isolated foot exercises.

The intrinsic foot muscles make important contributions to foot function.
Functional exercises are perceived as easier to perform, more readily integrated into daily routines, easily transferrable to functional tasks and activate multiple muscles.


  • 29 asymptomatic adults (21 women; aged 18-40 years) participated in the study.
to unlock full access to this review and 989 more