Segmental foot mobility in individuals with and without diabetes and neuropathy

Smita Rao, Charles Saltzman, H. John Yack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Impairment in intrinsic foot mobility has been identified as an important potential contributor to altered foot function in individuals with diabetes mellitus and neuropathy, however the role of limited foot mobility in gait remains poorly understood. The purpose of our study was to examine segmental foot mobility during gait in subjects with and without diabetes and neuropathy. Methods: Segmental foot mobility during gait was examined using a multi-segment kinematic foot model in subjects with diabetes (n = 15) and non-diabetic control subjects (n = 15). Findings: Subjects with diabetes showed reduced frontal as well as sagittal plane excursion of the calcaneus relative to the tibia. Decreased excursion of the first metatarsal relative to the calcaneus in the frontal as well as transverse plane was noted in subjects with diabetes. Interpretation: Our findings agree with traditional understanding of foot mechanics and shed new light on patterns and magnitude of motion during gait. Calcaneal pronation, noted in early stance in both groups, was reduced in subjects with diabetes and may have important consequences on joints proximal as well as distal to it. Subjects with diabetes showed reduced foot 'splay' in early stance, indicated by first metatarsal and forefoot eversion. At terminal stance, decreases in calcaneal plantarflexion, first metatarsal and forefoot supination were noted in subjects with diabetes, suggesting that less supination is required in subjects with diabetes to create a rigid lever. In subjects with diabetes, a greater proportion of midfoot stability may be derived from modified/stiffer soft tissue such as the plantar fascia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-471
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Diabetes
  • Foot mobility
  • Kinematic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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