Coordination of intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles during walking

Karl E. Zelik, Valentina La Scaleia, Yuri P. Ivanenko, Francesco Lacquaniti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The human foot undergoes complex deformations during walking due to passive tissues and active muscles. However, based on prior recordings it is unclear if muscles that contribute to flexion/extension of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints are activated synchronously to modulate joint impedance, or sequentially to perform distinct biomechanical functions. We investigated the coordination of MTP flexors and extensors with respect to each other, and to other ankle–foot muscles. Methods: We analyzed surface electromyographic (EMG) recordings of intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles for healthy individuals during level treadmill walking, and also during sideways and tiptoe gaits. We computed stride-averaged EMG envelopes and used the timing of peak muscle activity to assess synchronous vs. sequential coordination. Results: We found that peak MTP flexor activity occurred significantly before peak MTP extensor activity during walking (P 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-701
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Ankle
  • EMG
  • Foot
  • Metatarsophalangeal flexion and extension
  • Muscle coordination
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)


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