The navicular drop test is a measure to evaluate the function of the medial longitudinal arch, which is important for examination of patients with overuse injuries. Conflicting results have been found with regard to differences in navicular drop between healthy and injured participants. Normal values have not yet been established as foot length, age, gender, and Body Mass Index (BMI) may influence the navicular drop. The purpose of the study was to investigate the influence of foot length, age, gender, and BMI on the navicular drop during walking.
Navicular drop was measured with a novel technique (Video Sequence Analysis, VSA) using 2D video. Flat reflective markers were placed on the medial side of the calcaneus, the navicular tuberosity, and the head of the first metatarsal bone. The navicular drop was calculated as the perpendicular distance between the marker on the navicular tuberosity and the line between the markers on calcaneus and first metatarsal head. The distance between the floor and the line in standing position between the markers on calcaneus and first metatarsal were added afterwards.
280 randomly selected participants without any foot problems were analysed during treadmill walking (144 men, 136 women). Foot length had a significant influence on the navicular drop in both men (p < 0.001) and women (p = 0.015), whereas no significant effect was found of age (p = 0.27) or BMI (p = 0.88). Per 10 mm increase in foot length, the navicular drop increased by 0.40 mm for males and 0.31 mm for females. Linear models were created to calculate the navicular drop relative to foot length.
The study demonstrated that the dynamic navicular drop is influenced by foot length and gender. Lack of adjustment for these factors may explain, at least to some extent, the disagreement between previous studies on navicular drop. Future studies should account for differences in these parameters.