The Role of the Transverse Arch

The Role of the Transverse Arch

The transverse arch of the foot follows the coronal plane and is composed of the bases of five metatarsal heads, three cuneiforms and the cuboid.

The dome-shaped transverse arch is elevated medially across the tarsal bones at the tarsometatarsal joints and held in place by the tarsometatarsal ligaments.

In a detailed study on the flexibility of the transverse arch of the forefoot, Kudo et al. sought to measure the percentage of the transverse arch length in 19 men and 10 women with no history of lower extremity injury, by using a three-dimensional motion capture system.

This becomes an important consideration in the development of early intervention and preventative strategies for a number of conditions related to the forefoot such as metatarsalgia or metatarsal stress fractures that cause disruptions in the functioning of the transverse arch.

The percentage of the transverse arch length is defined as, “the distance from the first to the fifth metatarsal head divided by the foot length”; subjects were classified as hypo-flexible, hyper-flexible and control group according to the percentage calculated. 

Based on the findings of the study, the authors concluded that treatment for subjects diagnosed with hyper-flexible forefeet should entail therapy focused on increasing rigidity of the foot through intrinsic plantar muscles training and insertion of metatarsal pads.

Hypo-flexible forefeet, in contrast, require therapy for relaxing the intrinsic plantar muscles by closed kinetic training with forefoot loading to activate the intrinsic plantar muscles with correct timing and extent during motion.

The main function of these intrinsic plantar muscles is to stabilise the arches of the foot, regulate pronation rate and impart motion control to the foot.

While it is a common misconception that orthotics weaken the functioning of the intrinsic muscles, MASS4D® ensures through its augmented calibration process that the highly customised foot orthotics provide the correct balance of a resistant force to allow optimal muscle range of motion.

When muscles are allowed to work unaffected throughout their functional range of motion, weaker muscles are coaxed into strengthening and joint alignment is re-established.

Optimal arthrokinematics is achieved through the optimal alignment of bones and ligaments, further promoting muscle strength and tendon function in the process.

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  1. Kudo S., Hatanaka Y., Naka K., Ito K. (2014) Flexibility of the Transverse Arch of the Forefoot. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery: April 2014, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 46-51
  2. Clemente, C. D. (2010) Clemente's Anatomy Dissector: Guides to Individual Dissections in Human Anatomy with Brief Relevant Clinical Notes. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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