Using Elastographic Ultrasound to Assess Plantar Tissue Stiffness after Waking at Different Speeds and Durations

Chi Wen Lung, Fu Lien Wu, Keying Zhang, Ben Yi Liau, Runnell Townsend, Yih Kuen Jan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exercise has been demonstrated to improve health in people with diabetes. However, exercise may increase risk for foot ulcers because of increased plantar pressure during most weight-bearing physical activities. To date, there is no study investigating the effect of various walking speeds and durations (i.e., the most common form of exercise in daily living) on the plantar foot. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of various walking intensities on plantar tissue stiffness. A 3 × 2 factorial design, including three walking speeds (1.8, 3.6 and 5.4 mph) and two durations (10 and 20 min), was tested in 12 healthy participants. B-mode and elastographic ultrasound images were measured from the first metatarsal head to quantify plantar tissue stiffness after walking. Two-way ANOVA was used to examine the results. Our results showed that the walking speed factor caused a significant main effect of planar stiffness of the superficial layers (p = 0.007 and 0.003, respectively). However, the walking duration factor did not significantly affect the plantar stiffness. There was no interaction between the speed and duration factors on plantar tissue stiffness. Regarding the walking speed effect, there was a significant difference in the plantar stiffness between 1.8 and 3.6 mph (56.8 ± 0.8% vs. 53.6 ± 0.9%, p = 0.017) under 20 min walking duration. This finding is significant because moderate-to-fast walking speed (3.6 mph) can decrease plantar stiffness compared to slow walking speed (1.8 mph). This study suggests people at risk for foot ulcers walk at a preferred or fast speed (3.6 mph) rather than walk slowly (1.8 mph).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7498
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 25 2020


  • Diabetic foot ulcers
  • Elastography
  • Ultrasound
  • Walking durations
  • Walking speeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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