European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 5, pp 1003–1010 | Cite as

Non-linear growth trends of toe flexor muscle strength among children, adolescents, and young adults: a cross-sectional study

  • Noriteru Morita
  • Junichiro Yamauchi
  • Ryosuke Fukuoka
  • Toshiyuki Kurihara
  • Mitsuo Otsuka
  • Tomoyasu Okuda
  • Noriyuki Shide
  • Isao Kambayashi
  • Hisashi Shinkaiya
Original Article



There are only a few studies on the muscular strength of the foot in children and adolescents; thus, the developmental pattern and normative data of these populations during growth are unclear. We sought to elucidate the developmental pattern of the foot muscle strength among children, adolescents, and young adults compared with that of the hand.


A total of 747 children, adolescents, and young adults participated in this study, and their maximum isometric toe flexor strength (TFS), hand grip strength (HGS), and foot length were measured.


TFS was correlated with HGS (r = 0.785), age (r = 0.659), height (r = 0.757), body mass (r = 0.737), and foot length (r = 0.594). Multiple regression analyses revealed that TFS was correlated with age (β = 0.243 in boys; β = 0.461 in girls), squared value of age (age2; β = − 0.296 in boys; β = − 0.260 in girls), and body mass (β = 0.256 in boys; β = 0.311 in girls) in both sexes, indicating a non-linear relationship between age and TFS development. In a regression model for HGS, age was a significant variable, but not age2. HGS increased linearly from childhood until young adulthood, whereas TFS increased from childhood until adolescence and then levelled off.


Our results demonstrate that TFS has a different developmental pattern compared with HGS.


Growth and development Toe flexor strength Isometric contraction 



Squared value of age


Body mass


Squared value of body mass


Squared value of height


Hand grip strength


Peak height velocity


Relative hand grip strength


Relative toe flexor strength


Toe flexor strength



We thank all children and teachers who cooperated with us for this study. The present study was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C; #22500619) for H. S.; for Young Scientists (B; #24700631 and # 23700688) for M.O., T.K, respectively; for Young Scientists (A; #23680066) for J.Y.; for Exploratory Research (#24650408) for J.Y. from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan.

Author contributions

All of authors satisfied the following area of authorship requirements: NM: manuscript writing, concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. JY: manuscript writing, concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. RF: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. TK: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. MO: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. TO: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. NS: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. IK: concept and study design, data acquisition, data analysis, and interpretation. HS: concept and study design, data acquisition, and significant manuscript reviewer/reviser.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noriteru Morita
    • 1
  • Junichiro Yamauchi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ryosuke Fukuoka
    • 4
  • Toshiyuki Kurihara
    • 5
  • Mitsuo Otsuka
    • 5
  • Tomoyasu Okuda
    • 1
  • Noriyuki Shide
    • 1
  • Isao Kambayashi
    • 6
  • Hisashi Shinkaiya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sport EducationHokkaido University of EducationIwamizawaJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Human Health SciencesTokyo Metropolitan UniversityHachiojiJapan
  3. 3.Research Center in Back, Neck, Other Joint Pain and Human Performance (BNOJPH), Faculty of Associated Medical SciencesKhon Kaen UniversityKhon KaenThailand
  4. 4.Graduate School of EducationHokkaido University of EducationSapporoJapan
  5. 5.Faculty of Sport and Health ScienceRitsumeikan UniversityKusatsuJapan
  6. 6.Department of Teacher TrainingHokkaido University of EducationSapporoJapan

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