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


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.


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.


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.


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.

  • Listing ID: 9129
  • Author/s: Searle A, Spink MJ, Oldmeadow C, Chiu S, Chuter VH.
  • Publication: Clinical Biomechanics
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 69
  • Issue: October
  • Start Page: 52
  • Article Keywords: ankle; diabetes mellitus; pressure; dorsiflexion; equinus; stretching