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The Applicability of Plantar Padding in Reducing Peak Plantar Pressure in the Forefeet of Healthy Adults

Implications for the Foot at Risk

Alfred Gatt Department of Podiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.

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Andrea Briffa Department of Podiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.

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Nachiappan Chockalingam Faculty of Health, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, England.

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Cynthia Formosa Department of Podiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.

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Background: We investigated the effectiveness and durability of two types of plantar padding, the plantar metatarsal pad and the single wing plantar cover, which are commonly used for reducing forefoot plantar pressures.

Methods: Mean peak plantar pressure and impulse at the hallux and at the first, second, third, and fourth metatarsophalangeal joints across both feet were recorded using the two-step method in 18 individuals with normal asymptomatic feet. Plantar paddings were retained for 5 days, and their durability and effectiveness were assessed by repeating the foot plantar measurement at baseline and after 3 and 5 days.

Results: The single wing plantar cover devised from 5-mm felt adhesive padding was effective and durable in reducing peak plantar pressure and impulse at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (P = .001 and P = .015, respectively); however, it was not found to be effective in reducing peak plantar pressure and impulse at the hallux (P = .782 and P = .845, respectively). The plantar metatarsal pad was not effective in reducing plantar forefoot pressure and impulse at the second, third, and fourth metatarsophalangeal joints (P = .310 and P = .174, respectively).

Conclusions: These results imply limited applicability of the single wing plantar cover and the plantar metatarsal pad in reducing hallux pressure and second through fourth metatarsophalangeal joint pressure, respectively. However, the single wing plantar cover remained durable for the 5 days of the trial and was effective in reducing the peak plantar pressure and impulse underneath the first metatarsophalangeal joint.

Corresponding author: Cynthia Formosa, PhD, Department of Podiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, MSD 2080, Malta. (E-mail: cynthia.formosa@um.edu.mt)