Plantar Intrinsics and the Flat Foot
The plantar intrinsic foot muscles (PIFMs) can support the medial longitudinal arch (MLA) enough to change foot kinematics during gait in flat footed people. This is according to new research published recently in The Foot.
The authors highlight that plantar intrinsic stretching exercises are often prescribed by clinicians to help strengthen the MLA but it is not clear how effective these are to change kinematics in flatfooted patients. 18 flat footed participants were randomly allocated to an electrical stimulation group to stimulate the PIFMs control group. Kinematics were measured using 3D motion analysis.
Results showed that during gait analysis, the “time at which the MLA height reached its minimum value was significantly later in the electrical stimulation group, with no reduction in the MLA height at that time”. Forefoot inversion angle and tibial external rotation angle were also significantly larger in the electrical stimulation group at that time. However, during stance alone, there were no significant differences between the 2 groups.
The authors concluded “Strengthening the PIFMs may be effective in preventing and/or treating lower extremity overuse injuries related to the flat-foot alignment”.
More Support Needed for Diabetic Foot
According to a qualitative study published recently in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, recognition and management of psychosocial well-being and financial support is needed for patients living with diabetic foot problems.
“A purposive sample of eight participants with a diabetic foot were recruited from a public podiatry service in Tasmania, Australia. A hermeneutic phenomenology qualitative approach was used with individual semi-structured interviews conducted using an interview guide designed to gain insight into five pre-determined measures of social support”. Various themes emerged from the interviews including emotional self-efficacy, isolation, stress, transport needs, perception of social support from health professionals and reciprocal support (including financial).
The authors concluded that these findings should be integrated into current management practices to support the existing body of evidence for managing diabetic foot ulceration.
Pregnancy Affects Balance: New Study
Walking balance worsens as pregnancy progresses according to a new study published in Gait and Posture.
15 pregnant women were asked to perform 60 seconds of treadmill walking at 4-week intervals from 12 weeks gestation until delivery. Walking balance was measured within their base of support. Significant changes were observed in walking balance, particularly as pregnancy progressed.
While there could be some influence from the actual treadmill, the study suggests that clinicians should inform pregnant patients about the risk of falls, particularly as their pregnancy progresses into the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.