Background: Despite the prevalence and impact of plantar heel pain, its etiology remains poorly understood, and there is no consensus regarding optimum management. The identification of musculoskeletal factors related to the presence of plantar heel pain could lead to the development of better targeted intervention strategies and potentially improve clinical outcomes. The aim of this study was to investigate relationships between a number of musculoskeletal and activity-related measures and plantar heel pain.
Methods: In total, 202 people with plantar heel pain and 70 asymptomatic control participants were compared on a variety of musculoskeletal and activity-related measures, including body mass index (BMI), foot and ankle muscle strength, calf endurance, ankle and first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint range of motion, foot alignment, occupational standing time, exercise level, and generalized hypermobility. Following a comparison of groups for parity of age, analyses of covariance were performed to detect differences between the 2 groups for any of the variables measured.
Results: The plantar heel pain group displayed a higher BMI, reduced ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, reduced ankle evertor and toe flexor strength, and an altered inversion/eversion strength ratio. There were no differences between groups for foot alignment, dorsiflexor or invertor strength, ankle inversion or eversion range of motion, first MTP joint extension range of motion, generalized hypermobility, occupational standing time, or exercise level.
Conclusion: Plantar heel pain is associated with higher BMI and reductions in some foot and ankle strength and flexibility measures. Although these factors could be either causal or consequential, they are all potentially modifiable and could be targeted in the management of plantar heel pain.
Level of evidence: Level III, comparative study.
Keywords: Strength; flexibility; foot alignment; obesity.
© The Author(s) 2014.