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01-12-2014 | Research | Uitgave 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2014

Fiber type composition of the human quadratus plantae muscle: a comparison of the lateral and medial heads

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2014
Kristen L Schroeder, Benjamin WC Rosser, Soo Y Kim
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13047-014-0054-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

KS performed muscle fiber typing and analysis and drafted the manuscript. BR performed specimen dissection, helped to edit the manuscript, and participated in the design of the study. SK conceived of the study and participated in its design, and performed specimen dissection. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The human quadratus plantae muscle has been attributed a variety of functions, however no consensus has been reached on its significance to foot functioning. The architecture of the human quadratus plantae consists of an evolutionarily conserved lateral head, and a medial head thought to be unique to Man. Surveys of human anatomy have demonstrated the absence of either the medial or lateral head in 20% of the population, which may have implications for foot functioning if each muscle head performs a discrete function.


We investigated the quadratus plantae from eleven formalin-embalmed specimens with a mean age of 84 ± 9 years. Immunohistochemical methods were used to determine the percentage of Type I and Type II muscle fibers in the medial and lateral heads of the quadratus plantae from these specimens.


Results showed striking homogeneity in fiber type composition within an individual, with an average difference in Type I fiber content of 4.1% between lateral and medial heads. Between individuals, however, the ratio of fiber types within the quadratus plantae was highly variable, with Type I fiber percentages ranging from 19.1% to 91.6% in the lateral head, and 20.4% to 97.0% within the medial head.


Our finding of similar fiber type composition of lateral and medial heads within an individual supports the hypothesis that the two heads have a singular function.

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Reviewer acknowledgement 2013