Increasing Calcaneal Plantar Flexion as a Method to Improve Weight Bearing Leg Dorsiflexion

  • Author / Creator
    vonGaza, Gabriella L
  • Previous research on foot and ankle mechanics has shown that weight bearing leg dorsiflexion range of motion is positively correlated to calcaneal plantar flexion. The gastrocnemius muscle promotes while the plantar aponeurosis and plantar intrinsic muscles restrict calcaneal plantar flexion. Thus, reducing plantar aponeurosis and plantar intrinsic muscle tension while increasing gastrocnemius strength may improve weight bearing leg dorsiflexion range of motion. Twenty-seven participants with poor (< 25°) leg dorsiflexion were enrolled and randomly assigned to one of two six-week intervention groups. Group 1 (n = 14) performed self-massage and stretching of the plantar aponeurosis and plantar intrinsic muscles three days per week. Group 2 (n = 13) performed the same self-massage and stretching in addition to a modified glute-ham-gastroc raise exercise. The weight bearing lunge, the standard assessment for leg dorsiflexion, was assessed before and after the intervention. Additionally, force platforms and three-dimensional motion analysis were used to examine lower extremity kinetics and kinematics during a partial squat exercise, with ankle net joint moments, peak leg dorsiflexion and calcaneal plantar flexion being the primary movements of interest. In the weight bearing lunge, Group 1 improved their leg dorsiflexion by 3.7 ± 2.9° (Effect Size (ES) = 1.16) in the left and 4.2 ± 3.2° (ES = 1.25) in the right. Group 2 experienced greater increases in the left of 4.9 ± 4.4° (ES = 1.80) and 6.4 ± 3.7° for the right (ES = 1.51). In the partial squat, leg dorsiflexion increased -0.6 ± 3.2° for the left (ES = 0.15) and -1.0 ± 2.6° for the right (ES = 0.24) in Group 1, and -2.3 ± 4.2° for the left (ES = 0.55) and -2.1 ± 3.2° for the right (ES = 0.59) in Group 2. There were small increases in calcaneal plantar flexion where Group 1 increased -0.7 ± 2.6° in the left (ES = 0.25) and -0.2 ± 2.7° in the right (ES = 0.08), whereas Group 2 increased -0.3 ± 3.2° in the left (ES = 0.15) and -2.7 ± 6.2° in the right (ES = 0.64). These results suggest that plantar aponeurosis and plantar intrinsic muscle self-massage and stretching in combination with modified glute-ham-gastroc raise exercise could be an alternative to calf stretching to improve weight bearing leg dorsiflexion range of motion.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Physical Education and Recreation
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Chiu, Loren (Physical Education and Recreation)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Carey, Jason (Engineering)
    • Rouhani, Hossein (Engineering)