BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Jul 30;23(1):729. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05618-w.
BACKGROUND: Restriction in foot and ankle joint range of motion, such as an ankle equinus, has been associated with increased plantar pressure and its complications. However, previous research is limited by its scope of measures and study populations. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between foot and ankle joint range of motion on barefoot plantar pressures during walking in healthy older adults.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study recruited 49 older adults. Participants underwent measures of foot (first metatarsophalangeal dorsiflexion range of motion, and navicular drop and drift) and ankle joint range of motion, foot posture, body mass index, and plantar pressure during barefoot walking. Spearman Rank Order Correlations were used to explore the relationship between foot and ankle measures, body mass index, and plantar pressure, with significant correlations explored in a hierarchical regression analysis. A Mann-Whitney U test was performed to compare plantar pressure values between those with and without ankle equinus per region of the foot.
RESULTS: Mean (SD) age and BMI were 72.4 years (5.2) and 29.8 kg/m2 (5.9) respectively. A total of 32 of the 49 participants (65%) identified as female sex. Mean (SD) ankle joint range of motion was 32.7 (6.4) degrees with 17/49 (34.7%) participants classified as having an ankle equinus (defined as < 30 degrees of ankle joint dorsiflexion range of motion). We found that an ankle equinus predicted a statistically significant amount of peak forefoot plantar pressure (p = 0.03). Participants with an ankle equinus displayed significantly higher forefoot peak pressure 677.8 kPa (589.9 to 810.4) compared to those with no equinus 565.58 kPa (447.3 to 651.2), p = 0.02. A statistically significant correlation was found between body mass index and midfoot peak pressure (p < 0.01) and pressure-time integral (p < 0.01). No other significant correlations were found.
CONCLUSION: Clinicians should consider screening for an ankle equinus and body mass index as a simple way to identify which healthy older adults may be at risk of pressure-related complications in the mid- and forefoot.