Calf muscle stretching is ineffective in increasing ankle range of motion or reducing plantar pressures in people with diabetes and ankle equinus: A randomised controlled trial

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Authors: Searle A, Spink MJ, Oldmeadow C, Chiu S, Chuter VH
Publication: Clinical biomechanics
Year: 2019
Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31302489

BACKGROUND:

Limited ankle dorsiflexion, or equinus, is associated with elevated plantar pressures, which have been implicated in the development and non-healing of foot ulcer. A stretching intervention may increase ankle dorsiflexion and reduce plantar pressures in people with diabetes.

METHODS:

Two arm parallel randomised controlled trial from September 2016 to October 2017. Adults with diabetes and ankle equinus (≤5° dorsiflexion) were randomly allocated to receive an 8 week static calf stretching intervention or continue with their normal activities. Primary outcome measures were change in weight bearing and non-weight bearing ankle dorsiflexion and forefoot peak plantar pressure. Secondary outcome measures were forefoot pressure time integrals and adherence to the stretching intervention.

FINDINGS:

68 adults (mean (standard deviation) age and diabetes duration 67.4 (10.9) years and 14.0 (10.8) years, 64.7% male) were randomised to stretch (n = 34) or usual activity (n = 34). At follow up, no significant differences were seen between groups (adjusted mean difference) for non-weight (+1.3°, 95% CI:-0.3 to 2.9, p = 0.101) and weight bearing ankle dorsiflexion (+0.5°, 95% CI:-2.6 to 3.6, p = 0.743) or forefoot in-shoe (+1.5 kPa, 95% CI:-10.0 to 12.9, p = 0.803) or barefoot peak pressures (-19.1 kPa, 95% CI:-96.4 to 58.1, p = 0.628). Seven of the intervention group and two of the control group were lost to follow up.

INTERPRETATION:

Our data failed to show a statistically significant or clinically meaningful effect of static calf muscle stretching on ankle range of motion, or plantar pressures, in people with diabetes and ankle equinus

  • Author/s: Searle A, Spink MJ, Oldmeadow C, Chiu S, Chuter VH
  • Publication: Clinical biomechanics
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 69
  • Start Page: 52
  • Article Keywords: Ankle; Diabetes mellitus; Dorsiflexion; Equinus; Pressure; Stretching