The human foot is a complex structure, where every muscle, tendon and ligament plays a big role in providing support to the body. A group of the smaller muscles in the foot are the lumbricals. They are a set of four muscles located in the forefoot. Their role is mainly to stabilize the foot while walking, when the foot is completely on the ground. They also function to maintain the stability of the arch of the foot.
What is the function of lumbricals?
The lumbricals help the toes to flex and extend. Each of our four toes, apart from the big toe has three bones. The distal phalanx is one of the three bones, which makes up our toe, and is located under each of our toenails. The lumbricals help to extend the ends of our toes and to stabilize the toes. While walking, each foot at a certain point is completely on the ground, and this is the point in our walking cycle when the lumbricals are most active.
What nerves help the lumbricals to function?
In order for any muscle in the body to function and contract, it needs to be supplied by nerves. The lumbricals function with the help of two main nerves, the medial plantar nerve, and the lateral plantar nerve. The medial plantar nerve only helps the 1st Lumbrical to function. The lateral plantar nerve helps the second, third and fourth lumbricals to function. The lumbricals cannot function without the help of the nerves. Without its nerves, the lumbricals can become weak and smaller in size.
The Importance of Lumbricals
Without the help of these small, essential muscles, the lumbricals, we would be unable to stabilize our feet and especially our toes. While standing or in the walking cycle when the foot is completely flat on the ground, the lumbricals help to hold the toes flat on the ground. Without these four lumbricals, our toes would start to curl up, and resemble hammertoes.
What can you do to keep the lumbricals strong?
The lumbricals are stabilizers of the toes. They allow the toes to stay straight and on the ground.
A good exercise to keep the lumbricals in shape is "the towel grab". Try and grab a towel or a napkin with your toes, then let go. Repeat a few times a day to keep your lumbricals from getting weak.
Another fun exercise is to try and pick up and pen and write with your toes. This way, not only your lumbricals, but your entire foot will remain strong, and flexible.