Structural and functional predictors of regional peak pressures under the foot during walking

J Biomech. 1999 Apr;32(4):359-70. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(98)00188-2.


The objective of this study was to identify structural and functional factors which are predictors of peak pressure underneath the human foot during walking. Peak plantar pressure during walking and eight data sets of structural and functional measures were collected on 55 asymptomatic subjects between 20 and 70 yr. A best subset regression approach was used to establish models which predicted peak regional pressure under the foot. Potential predictor variables were chosen from physical characteristics, anthropometric data, passive range of motion (PROM), measurements from standardized weight bearing foot radiographs, mechanical properties of the plantar soft tissue, stride parameters, foot motion in 3D, and EMG during walking. Peak pressure values under the rearfoot, midfoot, MTH1, and hallux were measured. Heel pressure was a function of linear kinematics, longitudinal arch structure, thickness of plantar soft tissue, and age. Midfoot pressure prediction was dominated by arch structure, while MTH1 pressure was a function of radiographic measurements, talo-crural joint motion, and gastrocnemius activity. Hallux pressure was a function of structural measures and MTP1 joint motion. Foot structure and function predicted only approximately 50% of the variance in peak pressure, although the relative contributions in different anatomical regions varied dramatically. Structure was dominant in predicting peak pressure under the midfoot and MTH1, while both structure and function were important at the heel and hallux. The predictive models developed in this study give insight into potential etiological factors associated with elevated plantar pressure. They also provide direction for future studies designed to reduce elevated pressure in "at-risk" patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology
  • Foot / diagnostic imaging
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Forecasting
  • Gait / physiology
  • Hallux / anatomy & histology
  • Hallux / physiology
  • Heel / anatomy & histology
  • Heel / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metatarsal Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Metatarsal Bones / physiology
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pressure
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Talus / anatomy & histology
  • Talus / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology