March 2018

Midfoot mobility and patellofemoral pain

Seeking to better understand foot mobility in adults with ­patel­lo­­femoral pain (PFP, or so-called runner’s knee), Australian researchers studied almost 200 adults aged 18 to 50 years. Both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing measures were used to calculate midfoot height mobility, midfoot width mobility, and foot mobility magnitude. Cluster analysis identified three distinct age groups: 18 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 to 50. Midfoot height mobility differed across all three groups with moderate to large effect sizes, and, for those aged 40 to 50, when compared to those aged 18 to 29, foot mobility magnitude was significantly less (see figure).

These findings indicate that significant age-related changes in foot mobility are occurring earlier than previously recognized and pertain to foot mobility height moreso than foot mobility width. The authors speculate that, in an older population, the effectiveness of orthoses may be in their ability to better manage weight-bearing loads by redistributing plantar pressures, rather than in controlling motion.


Tan, JM, Crossley KM, Vicenzino B, Menz HB, et al. Age-related differences in foot mobility in individuals with patellofemoral pain. J Foot Ankle Res. 2018;11:5.

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