Biomechanics of the infant foot during the transition to independent walking: A narrative review

Gait Posture. 2018 Jan;59:140-146. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.09.005. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Recognising structural and functional development of the paediatric foot is fundamental to ensuring a strong theoretical framework for health professionals and scientists. The transition of an infant from sitting to walking takes approximately 9 months and is when the structures and function of the foot must respond to the challenges of bearing load; becoming increasingly more essential for locomotion. Literature pertaining to the phase of development was searched. A narrative approach synthesised the information from papers written in English, with non-symptomatic infant participants up to the development stage of independent walking or two years of age. A range of literature was identified documenting morphological, physiological, neuromuscular and biomechanical aspects of the infant within this phase of development. The progression of variable gait to a regular pattern is documented within a range of studies focusing on neuromuscular control and ambulation development. However, methodological approaches may have compromised the external validity of such data. Additionally, limited consideration for the specific function and development of the foot is evident, despite its role as the primary site of weight bearing and interface with the floor. A lack of consideration of infants prior to ambulation (i.e. before cruising or walking) is also apparent which prevents a reference baseline being used effectively. This review also identifies future research priorities such that a comprehensive understanding of foot development from a non-weight bearing to a weight bearing structure during locomotor advancement can be gained.

Keywords: Ambulation; Biomechanics; Development; Foot; Infants; Pressure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology