CQU-led journal article aims to ensure podiatrists get off on the right foot in regards to foot pain

Published:25 August 2020

CQU Head of Podiatry Dr Malia Ho has had a paper published in the Journal of the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

A CQUniversity-led first-of-its-kind study looking into the association between foot posture and pain when standing and walking, has recently been featured in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

The study by CQU Senior Lecturer in Podiatry and Head of Course, Dr Malia Ho and Dr John Tan from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, has the potential to benefit practising podiatrists, podiatry students and of course, those experiencing foot pain.

Many people with flat feet or high arched feet suffer from pain in the foot during standing and walking,” Dr Ho said.

“This is because people with flat and high arched feet exhibit different foot movements from those with normal arched feet and this puts them at a higher risk of foot injuries.”

Dr Ho said patients assessed by a health professional to have flat, high arched or normal arched feet, would normally be recommended to use a certain type of footwear, insoles or to do foot exercises that can reduce these excessive foot movements during walking, and potentially prevent the re-occurrence of foot pain.

She said the association between foot posture and walking gait has been researched, supported by evidence and widely accepted by the podiatry community and health professionals.

“However, standing and walking are very different from running, as your feet land on the ground in a different way,” she said.

“In other words, just because your foot arch looks flat when you are standing/walking, doesn’t necessarily mean that your foot will move like a flat foot when you are running. Foot pain during running is more common than when standing or walking. But there is a lack of studies looking at foot posture and foot movements during running.

“This study is one of the first studies to associate flat, normal and high arched foot postures when standing to three-dimensional foot (heel and arch) movements when running.”

The article outlined that the results of the study would benefit podiatrists working with time and space constraints within a clinical setting.

“It is hard for a clinician to observe how a foot actually behaves when running as there is usually not enough space in the clinical setting to observe running gait (unless there is a treadmill in the clinic),” she said.

“Therefore, clinicians usually assume that running is just walking at a higher speed (which is not the case) and manage a patient’s foot pain during running, based on an assessment of their foot posture when they are standing. This assumption may lead to errors in management.”

The article provided evidence associating flat, normal and high arched feet to heel and arch movements during running, allow clinicians a better understanding of foot movements in runners with flat, normal and high arched feet, without actually needing to see patients run.

“This will enhance a podiatrist’s ability to recommend the most appropriate and accurate treatment for runners with heel and arch pain, in the form of the right footwear and insoles, or targeting the appropriate foot muscles to strengthen in order to prevent injuries. This will lead to better patient outcomes and shorter recovery times,” Dr Ho said.

She said the information gathered during the study would be used to update unit content of CQU’s Podiatry courses.

“It is definitely an encouragement to know that my research work contributes to the body of new knowledge in Podiatry, and that the quality of research is acknowledged by an international community of Podiatrists,” she said.

To find out more about the CQUni Podiatry course, or more research relating to foot pain, contact Dr Malia Ho