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Title: The influence of the windlass mechanism on kinematic and kinetic foot joint coupling
Abstract Background Previous research shows kinematic and kinetic coupling between the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) and midtarsal joints during gait. Studying the effects of MTP position as well as foot structure on this coupling may help determine to what extent foot coupling during dynamic and active movement is due to the windlass mechanism. This study’s purpose was to investigate the kinematic and kinetic foot coupling during controlled passive, active, and dynamic movements. Methods After arch height and flexibility were measured, participants performed four conditions: Seated Passive MTP Extension, Seated Active MTP Extension, Standing Passive MTP Extension, and Standing Active MTP Extension. Next, participants performed three heel raise conditions that manipulated the starting position of the MTP joint: Neutral, Toe Extension, and Toe Flexion. A multisegment foot model was created in Visual 3D and used to calculate ankle, midtarsal, and MTP joint kinematics and kinetics. Results Kinematic coupling (ratio of midtarsal to MTP angular displacement) was approximately six times greater in Neutral heel raises compared to Seated Passive MTP Extension, suggesting that the windlass only plays a small kinematic role in dynamic tasks. As the starting position of the MTP joint became increasingly extended during heel raises, the amount of negative work at the MTP joint and positive work at the midtarsal joint increased proportionally, while distal-to-hindfoot work remained unchanged. Correlations suggest that there is not a strong relationship between static arch height/flexibility and kinematic foot coupling. Conclusions Our results show that there is kinematic and kinetic coupling within the distal foot, but this coupling is attributed only in small measure to the windlass mechanism. Additional sources of coupling include foot muscles and elastic energy storage and return within ligaments and tendons. Furthermore, our results suggest that the plantar aponeurosis does not function as a rigid cable but likely has extensibility that affects the effectiveness of the windlass mechanism. Arch structure did not affect foot coupling, suggesting that static arch height or arch flexibility alone may not be adequate predictors of dynamic foot function.  more » « less
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Journal of Foot and Ankle Research
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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