Question: For people with plantar fasciopathy, is a 12-week self-dosed heavy-slow resistance training program more beneficial than a 12-week pre-determined heavy-slow resistance training program?
Design: A randomised trial with concealed allocation, partial blinding, and intention-to-treat analysis.
Participants: Seventy people with plantar fasciopathy confirmed on ultrasonography.
Intervention: Both groups performed a repeated heel raise exercise in standing for 12 weeks. Participants in the experimental group were self-dosed (ie, they performed as many sets as possible with as heavy a load as possible, but no heavier than 8 repetition maximum). The exercise regimen for the control group was pre-determined (ie, it followed a standardised progressive protocol).
Outcome measures: The primary outcome was the Foot Health Status Questionnaire pain domain. Secondary outcomes included: a 7-point Likert scale of Global Rating of Change dichotomised to 'improved' or 'not improved'; Patient Acceptable Symptom State defined as when participants felt no further need for treatment; and number of training sessions performed.
Results: There was no significant between-group difference in the improvement of Foot Health Status Questionnaire pain after 12 weeks (adjusted MD -6.9 points, 95% CI -15.5 to 1.7). According to the Global Rating of Change, 24 of 33 in the experimental group and 20 of 32 in the control group were improved (RR = 1.16, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.64). Only four participants achieved Patient Acceptable Symptom State: three of 35 in the experimental group and one of 35 in the control group. No significant between-group difference was found in the number of training sessions that were performed (MD -2 sessions, 95% CI -8 to 3).
Conclusion: Self-dosed and pre-determined heavy-slow resistance exercise programs are associated with similar effects on plantar fasciopathy pain and other outcomes over 12 weeks. Advising people with plantar fasciopathy to self-dose their slow-heavy resistance training regimen did not substantially increase the achieved dose compared with a pre-determined regimen. These regimens are not sufficient to achieve acceptable symptom state in the majority of people with plantar fasciopathy.
Keywords: Exercise; Plantar fasciopathy; Rehabilitation; Strengthening; Tendinopathy.
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