November 2016

Foot-specific training in older adults helps improve strength and balance

In the moment: Rehabilitation

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Foot-focused progressive resistance training helps improve toe flexor strength and balance in older adults, which may help reduce the risk of falls, according to research from the University of Wollongong in Australia.

Investigators randomized 85 community-dwelling older adults to 12 weeks of either a home-based general exercise program or a progressive, supervised resistance training program focused on the foot muscles. Another 32 individuals made up a control group.

Follow-up assessment was performed in 68 participants from the two exercise groups. Flexor strength in the hallux and lesser toes was significantly greater (by up to 36%) compared with baseline in the foot-focused training group but not in the home-exercise or control groups. In the foot-focused training group, increased toe flexor strength was associated with significant improvements in perceived general foot health (based on the Foot Health Status Questionnaire) and single-leg balance time.

The findings were epublished in October by Clinical Biomechanics. The authors recommended further trials to deter­mine if the foot-focused training is associated with a reduced risk of falls.


Mickle KJ, Caputi P, Potter JM, Steele JR. Efficacy of a progressive resistance exercise program to increase toe flexor strength in older people. Clin Biomech 2016 Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print]

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