Background: Insoles are often applied as preventive therapy of flatfoot deformity, but the therapeutic effects on obese individuals are still controversial. We aimed to investigate the effect of insole use on time-dependent changes in the foot arch during a repeated-loading simulation designed to represent 20,000 contiguous steps in individuals with a BMI value in the range of 30-40 kg/m2.
Methods: Eighteen cadaveric feet were randomly divided into the following three groups: normal, obese, and insole. Ten thousand cyclic loadings of 500 N (normal group) or 1000 N (obese and insole groups) were applied to the feet. We measured time-dependent change in arch height and calculated the bony arch index (BAI), arch flexibility, and energy absorption.
Results: The normal group maintained more than 0.21 BAI, which is the diagnostic criterion for a normal arch, throughout the 10,000 cycles; however, BAI was less than 0.21 at 1000 cycles in the obese group (mean, 0.203; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.196-0.209) and at 6000 cycles in the insole group (mean, 0.200; 95% CI, 0.191-0.209). Although there was a significant time-dependent decrease in flexibility and energy absorption in both the obese and insole groups (P < 0.001), the difference between 1 and 10,000 cycles were significantly smaller in the insole group than in the obese group (P = 0.024).
Conclusions: Use of insoles for obese individuals may help to slow time-dependent foot structural changes. However, the effect was not enough to maintain the foot structure against repeated hyper loadings.
Keywords: Adult acquired flatfoot deformity; Bony arch index; Cyclic load; Insole; Obesity.