Effect of different orthotic materials on plantar pressures: a systematic review

J Foot Ankle Res. 2020 Jun 11;13(1):35. doi: 10.1186/s13047-020-00401-3.


Background: The effect of different orthotic materials on plantar pressures has not been systematically investigated. This study aimed to review and summarise the findings from studies that have evaluated the effect of orthotic materials on plantar pressures.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of experimental studies that evaluated the effect of foot orthotic materials or shoe insole materials on plantar pressures using in-shoe testing during walking. The following databases were searched: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase and SPORTDiscus. Included studies were assessed for methodological quality using a modified Quality Index. Peak pressure, pressure-time integral, maximum force, force-time integral, contact area, and contact time were variables of interest. Data were synthesised descriptively as studies were not sufficiently homogeneous to conduct meta-analysis. Standardised mean differences (Cohen's d) were calculated to provide the size of the effect between materials found in each study.

Results: Five studies were identified as meeting the eligibility criteria. All five studies were laboratory-based and used a repeated measures design. The quality of the studies varied with scores ranging between 20 and 23 on the modified Quality Index (maximum index score 28). The included studies investigated the effects of polyurethane (including PORON®), polyethylene (including Plastazote®), ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) and carbon graphite on plantar pressures. Polyurethane (including PORON®), polyethylene (including Plastazote®) and EVA were all found to reduce peak pressure.

Conclusion: Based on the limited evidence supplied from the five studies included in this review, some orthotic materials can reduce plantar pressures during walking. Polyurethane (including PORON®), polyethylene (including Plastazote®) and EVA reduce peak pressure beneath varying regions of the foot. Future well-designed studies will strengthen this evidence.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Foot; Kinetics; Orthoses; Orthosis; Orthotic device; Plantar pressure.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design*
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Foot Orthoses*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plantar Plate / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing