The human foot is known to aid propulsion by storing and returning elastic energy during steady-state locomotion. While its function during other tasks is less clear, recent evidence suggests the foot and its intrinsic muscles can also generate or dissipate energy based on the energetic requirements of the center of mass during non-steady-state locomotion. In order to examine contributions of the foot and its muscles to non-steady-state locomotion, we compared the energetics of the foot and ankle joint while jumping and landing before and after the application of a tibial nerve block. Under normal conditions, energetic contributions of the foot rose as work demands increased, while the relative contributions of the foot to center of mass work remained constant with increasing work demands. Under the nerve block, foot contributions to both jumping and landing decreased. Additionally, ankle contributions were also decreased under the influence of the block for both tasks. Our results reinforce findings that foot and ankle function mirror the energetic requirements of the center of mass and provide novel evidence that foot contributions remain relatively constant under increasing energetic demands. Also, while the intrinsic muscles can modulate the energetic capacity of the foot, their removal accounted for only a 3% decrement in total center of mass work. Therefore, the small size of intrinsic muscles appears to limit their capacity to contribute to center of mass work. However, their role in contributing to ankle work capacity is likely important for the energetics of movement.

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