29th Apr 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised alarming concerns regarding the diminished physical fitness and increased susceptibility to bone fractures among school children. The purpose of this study was to clarify the relationship between arch condition, toe formation, toe muscles, and the results of physical fitness test.
The subjects were 1,303 children (657 boys and 646 girls) aged 6 to 14 years in K town, N prefecture. The survey was conducted in May 2023. The survey items were height, weight, physical fitness test, toe muscle strength, and arch condition. In addition, foot length, foot width, and the mean and standard deviation of all items were determined for each school.
Results and Discussion
Results revealed a progressive increase in toe muscle strength and toe arch formation with advancing grades, albeit with a decline observed from the second year of junior high school onwards. Notably, elementary school students exhibited arch formation, particularly in suburban areas, highlighting potential regional disparities. Significant differences (<0.001) were found in various physical fitness test components between different grade levels and gender groups, suggesting nuanced patterns in physical fitness development. However, while toe muscle strength demonstrated a correlation with physical fitness test results, no significant difference was observed in relation to arch formation or excessive hallux valgus tendencies.
This study underscores the importance of understanding the multifaceted relationship between foot biomechanics, musculoskeletal health, and physical fitness in school children. Addressing these dynamics can inform targeted interventions to mitigate the adverse effects of reduced physical activity and promote overall well-being among children in the wake of the pandemic.

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