Dynamics of longitudinal arch support in relation to walking speed: contribution of the plantar aponeurosis

J Anat. 2010 Sep;217(3):254-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2010.01261.x. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


The plantar aponeurosis (PA), in spanning the whole length of the plantar aspect of the foot, is clearly identified as one of the key structures that is likely to affect compliance and stability of the longitudinal arch. A recent study performed in our laboratory showed that tension/elongation in the PA can be predicted from the kinematics of the segments to which the PA is attached. In the present investigation, stereophotogrammetry and inverse kinematics were employed to shed light on the mechanics of the longitudinal arch and its main passive stabilizer, the PA, in relation to walking speed. When compared with a neutral unloaded position, the medial longitudinal arch underwent greater collapse during the weight-acceptance phase of stance at higher walking speed (0.1 degrees +/-1.9 degrees in slow walking; 0.9 degrees +/-2.6 degrees in fast walking; P = 0.0368). During late stance the arch was higher (3.4 degrees +/-3.1 degrees in slow walking; 2.8 degrees +/-2.7 degrees in fast walking; P = 0.0227) and the metatarsophalangeal joints more dorsiflexed (e.g. at the first metatarsophalangeal joint, 52 degrees +/-5 degrees in slow walking; 64 degrees +/-4 degrees in fast walking; P < 0.001) during fast walking. Early-stance tension in the PA increased with speed, whereas maximum tension during late stance did not seem to be significantly affected by walking speed. Although, on the one hand, these results give evidence for the existence of a pre-heel-strike, speed-dependent, arch-stiffening mechanism, on the other hand they suggest that augmentation of arch height in late stance is enhanced by higher forces exerted by the intrinsic muscles on the plantar aspect of the foot when walking at faster speeds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / anatomy & histology
  • Achilles Tendon / physiology
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fascia / anatomy & histology
  • Fascia / physiology*
  • Foot / anatomy & histology
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / physiology
  • Photogrammetry / methods
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult