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Previous research has found that ankle joint equinus can lead to foot pathologies. Calf stretching exercises are a common treatment prescription; however, no dynamic quantitative data on its effectiveness is available.
To investigate the effect of calf muscle stretching on ankle joint dorsiflexion and subsequent changes within dynamic forefoot peak plantar pressures (PPP), force and temporal parameters.
Thirteen runners with ankle joint equinus were required to perform calf muscle stretching twice a day (morning and evening) on a Flexeramp. Measurements were collected on day 1, week 4 and week 8. A repeated measures ANOVA with Bonferroni-adjusted post hoc comparisons was used to assess differences across the three data collection sessions.
Findings indicated that the calf stretching program increased ankle joint dorsiflexion significantly (from 5° to 16°, p≤0.05). The adaptive kinetics brought about by the increased ankle joint range of motion included significantly increased forefoot PPP and maximum force during stance phase but decreased time between heel contact and heel lift and total stance phase time.
The calf stretching programme used in this study was found to increase ankle joint dorsiflexion and hence can be used for first line conservative management of ankle equinus.