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Foot Arch Characterization

A Review, a New Metric, and a Comparison

Shuping Xiong Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China.

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Ravindra S. Goonetilleke Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Channa P. Witana Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Thilina W. Weerasinghe Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Emily Yim Lee Au Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Background: The medial longitudinal arch of the foot is important because it helps protect the foot from injury. Researchers have developed many measures to quantify the characteristics of the arch, and there is ongoing debate about the suitability of these different metrics. This article compares the various measures related to the foot arch, including a new metric, the midfoot dorsal angle, and then investigates the differences in the dimensional measures among various foot types.

Methods: The right feet of 48 healthy individuals (24 men and 24 women) were measured, and various metrics, including the arch height index, the navicular height to arch length ratio, the arch index, the footprint index, the subjective ranking, the modified arch index, the malleolar valgus index, and the midfoot dorsal angle, were determined.

Results: Correlation analyses showed that the arch index obtained from the inked footprint has a moderate to high correlation (Pearson correlation coefficients >0.50) with all measured foot-type metrics except for the malleolar valgus index. There were no differences in participant age, stature, weight, body mass index, foot length, foot width, and midfoot height among high, normal, and low foot arches. However, the high-arched group had significantly shorter arch lengths but larger navicular heights and higher midfoot dorsal angles compared with the low-arched group. There were differences in force distributions and peak pressures as well. The rearfoot had more loading and greater peak pressure whereas the midfoot had less load in the high-arched group compared with the low-arched group.

Conclusions: The midfoot dorsal angle may be an appropriate metric for characterizing the foot arch because it is quick and easy to measure, without the tedious procedures associated with area calculations and dimension measurements. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(1): 14–24, 2010)

Corresponding author: Ravindra S. Goonetilleke, PhD, Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. (E-mail: ravindra@ust.hk)