Muscles affecting minimum toe clearance

Chamalka Kenneth Perera, Alpha Agape Gopalai, Siti Anom Ahmad, Darwin Gouwanda

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate how the anterior and posterior muscles in the shank (Tibialis Anterior, Gastrocnemius Lateralis and Medialis), influence the level of minimum toe clearance (MTC). With aging, MTC deteriorates thus, greatly increasing the probability of falling or tripping. This could result in injury or even death. For this study, muscle activity retention taping (MART) was used on young adults, which is an accepted method of simulating a poor MTC—found in elderly gait. The subject's muscle activation was measured using surface electromyography (SEMG), and the kinematic parameters (MTC, knee and ankle joint angles) were measured using an optical motion capture system. Our results indicate that MART produces significant reductions in MTC (P < α), knee flexion (P < α) and ankle dorsiflexion (P < α), as expected. However, the muscle activity increased significantly, contrary to the expected result (elderly individuals should have lower muscle activity). This was due to the subject's muscle conditions (healthy and strong), hence the muscles worked harder to counteract the external restriction. Yet, the significant change in muscle activity (due to MART) proves that the shank muscles do play an important role in determining the level of MTC. The Tibialis Anterior had the highest overall muscle activation, making it the primary muscle active during the swing phase. With aging, the shank muscles (specifically the Tibialis Anterior) would weaken and stiffen, coupled with a reduced joint range of motion. Thus, ankle-drop would increase—leading to a reduction in MTC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number612064
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2021


  • aging
  • gait
  • gastrocnemius
  • joint angle
  • minimum toe clearance
  • surface electromyography
  • tibialis anterior

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