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Forefoot Midsole Stiffness Affects Forefoot and Rearfoot Kinematics During the Stance Phase of Gait

Renan A. Resende Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Sérgio T. Fonseca Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Paula L. Silva Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Antônio E. Pertence Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

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Renata N. Kirkwood Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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Background

The forefoot midsole stiffness of the shoe may affect the kinematics of the foot segments. We evaluated the effects of two different levels of forefoot midsole stiffness on the angular displacement of the forefoot and rearfoot in the three planes of motion during the stance phase of gait.

Methods

Thirty-six participants walked on a 10-m walkway at their self-selected speed wearing shoes having either low or high forefoot midsole stiffness. Three-dimensional kinematic data of the foot segments were obtained during the stance phase of gait using an eight-camera motion analysis system synchronized with a force platform. The dependent variables were forefoot and rearfoot total range of motion and maximum and minimum angle values in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of motion.

Results

Reduced forefoot midsole stiffness produced significantly greater forefoot total range of motion in the sagittal plane (1.59°). The low-stiffness condition also increased the magnitude of the forefoot dorsiflexion angles (4.14°). Furthermore, the low-stiffness condition increased the magnitude of the rearfoot inversion (1.21°) and adduction (11.38°) angles and reduced the rearfoot abduction angle (12.1°).

Conclusions

It is likely that reduced stiffness of the forefoot midsole stretched the plantar fascia, increasing rearfoot stability during the stance phase of gait. Increased muscular contraction may also explain increases in rearfoot stability. Therefore, the integrity of the plantar fascia and ankle muscles' force and resistance should be considered when choosing a shoe with reduced or increased forefoot midsole stiffness for walking.

Corresponding author: Renan A. Resende, MSc, Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antonio Carlos 6627, Belo Horizonte, MG 31270-010, Brazil. (E-mail: renanresende@hotmail.com)