In vivo biomechanical behavior of the human heel pad during the stance phase of gait

J Biomech. 2001 Dec;34(12):1661-5. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(01)00143-9.


A technique is introduced for simultaneous measurements of the heel pad tissue deformation and the heel-ground contact stresses developing during the stance phase of gait. Subjects walked upon a gait platform integrating the contact pressure display optical method for plantar pressure measurements and a digital radiographic fluoroscopy system for skeletal and soft tissue motion recording. Clear images of the posterior-plantar aspect of the calcaneus and enveloping soft tissues were obtained simultaneously with the pressure distribution under the heel region throughout the stance phase of gait. The heel pad was shown to undergo a rapid compression during initial contact and heel strike, reaching a strain of 0.39 +/- 0.05 in about 150 ms. The stress-strain relation of the heel pad was shown to be highly non-linear, with a compression modulus of 105 +/- 11 kPa initially and 306 +/- 16 kPa at 30% strain. The energy dissipation during heel strike was evaluated to be 17.8+/-0.8%. The present technique is useful for biomechanical as well as clinical evaluation of the stress-strain and energy absorption characteristics of the heel pad in vivo, during natural gait.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Heel / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Pressure
  • Stress, Mechanical