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The Effect of Walking Speed on Foot Kinematics is Modified When Increased Pronation is Induced

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  • 1 Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
  • | 2 Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.
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Background: The relation between walking speed and foot kinematics during gait is not well established, and neither is it clear whether this relation is modified in the presence of factors expected to increase pronation (eg, abnormal foot alignment). Understanding how foot kinematics is affected by walking speed under varying conditions could contribute to our understanding of stresses to the musculoskeletal system during walking. We evaluated the effect of walking speed on foot kinematics in the frontal plane during gait and determined whether this effect is modified by using medially inclined insoles that force the foot into increased pronation.

Methods: Twenty-six healthy young adults were assessed while walking on a treadmill wearing flat insoles and wearing medially inclined insoles. Foot kinematics in the frontal plane was measured with a three-dimensional motion analysis system. Data were analyzed during the stance phase of gait.

Results: There was no main effect of speed on average calcaneal position. However, there was a significant insole type × walking speed interaction effect. In the flat insole condition, increased walking speed was associated with a less inverted average calcaneal position (or greater magnitudes of eversion), whereas in the inclined insole condition, higher speeds were associated with a less everted average calcaneal position (or increased magnitudes of inversion).

Conclusions: The magnitude of foot eversion increases at faster gait speeds under typical conditions. In the presence of factors that induce excessive pronation, however, this effect is reversed. Results suggest that individuals use greater active control of foot motion at faster speeds in the presence of excessive pronation to improve push-off efficiency. Potential clinical consequences of this functional strategy are discussed.

Corresponding author: Joana F. Hornestam, MSc, Department of Physical Therapy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antonio Carlos 6627, Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, MG, 31270-010 Brazil. (E-mail: fhjoana@gmail.com)