Foot Pain and Pronated Foot Type Are Associated with Self-Reported Mobility Limitations in Older Adults: The Framingham Foot Study

Gerontology. 2016;62(3):289-95. doi: 10.1159/000442089. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Background: The foot plays an important role in supporting the body when undertaking weight-bearing activities. Aging is associated with an increased prevalence of foot pain and a lowering of the arch of the foot, both of which may impair mobility.

Objective: To examine the associations of foot pain, foot posture and dynamic foot function with self-reported mobility limitations in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Foot examinations were conducted on 1,860 members of the Framingham Study in 2002-2005. Foot posture was categorized as normal, planus or cavus using static pressure measurements, and foot function was categorized as normal, pronated or supinated using dynamic pressure measurements. Participants were asked whether they had foot pain and any difficulty performing a list of eight weight-bearing tasks. Multivariate logistic regression and linear regression models were used to examine the associations of foot pain, posture, function and ability to perform these activities.

Results: After adjusting for age, sex, height and weight, foot pain was significantly associated with difficulty performing all eight weight-bearing activities. Compared to those with normal foot posture and function, participants with planus foot posture were more likely to report difficulty remaining balanced [odds ratio (OR) = 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06-1.85; p = 0.018] and individuals with pronated foot function were more likely to report difficulty walking across a small room (OR = 2.07, 95% CI 1.02-4.22; p = 0.045). Foot pain and planus foot posture were associated with an overall mobility limitation score combining performances on each measure.

Conclusion: Foot pain, planus foot posture and pronated foot function are associated with self-reported difficulty undertaking common weight-bearing tasks. Interventions to reduce foot pain and improve foot posture and function may therefore have a role in improving mobility in older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Posture
  • Pronation*
  • Self Report
  • Weight-Bearing