Background: The Foot Posture Index (FPI) is a validated method for quantifying standing foot posture, and is being used in a variety of clinical settings. There have however, been no normative data available to date for comparison and reference. This study aimed to establish normative FPI reference values.
Methods: Studies reporting FPI data were identified by searching online databases. Nine authors contributed anonymised versions of their original datasets comprising 1648 individual observations. The datasets included information relating to centre, age, gender, pathology (if relevant), FPI scores and body mass index (BMI) where available. FPI total scores were transformed to interval logit scores as per the Rasch model and normal ranges were defined. Comparisons between groups employed t-tests or ANOVA models as appropriate and data were explored descriptively and graphically.
Results: The main analysis based on a normal healthy population (n = 619) confirmed that a slightly pronated foot posture is the normal position at rest (mean back transformed FPI raw score = +4). A 'U' shaped relationship existed for age, with minors and older adults exhibiting significantly higher FPI scores than the general adult population (F = 51.07, p < 0.001). There was no difference between the FPI scores of males and females (2.3 versus 2.5; t = -1.44, p = 0.149). No relationship was found between the FPI and BMI. Systematic differences from the adult normals were confirmed in patients with neurogenic and idiopathic cavus (F = 216.981, p < 0.001), indicating some sensitivity of the instrument to detect a posturally pathological population.
Conclusion: A set of population norms for children, adults and older people have been derived from a large sample. Foot posture is related to age and the presence of pathology, but not influenced by gender or BMI. The normative values identified may assist in classifying foot type for the purpose of research and clinical decision making.