Ultrasound elastographic assessment of plantar fascia in runners using rearfoot strike and forefoot strike

Tony Lin Wei Chen, Cristine E. Agresta, David B. Lipps, Seraphina G. Provenzano, Jocelyn F. Hafer, Duo Wai Chi Wong, Ming Zhang, Ronald F. Zernicke

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Forefoot strike is increasingly being adopted by runners because it can better attenuate impact than rearfoot strike. However, forefoot strike may overload the plantar fascia and alter the plantar fascia elasticity. This study aimed to use ultrasound elastography to investigate and compare shear wave elasticity of the plantar fascia between rearfoot strikers and forefoot strikers. A total of 35 participants (21 rearfoot strikers and 14 forefoot strikers), who were free of lower limb injuries and diseases, were recruited from a local running club. Individual foot strike patterns were identified through the measured plantar pressure during treadmill running. The B-Mode ultrasound images and shear wave elastographic images of the plantar fascia were collected from each runner. Two independent investigators reviewed the images and examined the plantar fascia qualitatively and quantitatively. The results demonstrated an overall good agreement between the investigators in the image review outcomes (ICC:0.96–0.98, κ: 0.89). There were no significant differences in the fascial thickness (p = 0.50)and hypoechogenicity on the gray-scale images (p = 0.54)between the two groups. Shear wave elastography showed that forefoot strikers exhibited reduced plantar fascia elasticity compared to rearfoot strikers (p = 0.01, Cohen's d = 0.91). A less elastic fascial tissue was more easily strained under loading. Tissue overstrain is frequently related to the incidence of plantar fasciitis. While further study is needed for firm conclusions, runners using forefoot strike were encouraged to enhance their foot strength for better protection of the plantar fascia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019


  • Foot strike patterns
  • Plantar fascia
  • Running
  • Shear wave elastography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrasound elastographic assessment of plantar fascia in runners using rearfoot strike and forefoot strike'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this