The purpose of this study was to compare plantar loading measurements in females with and without patellofemoral pain (PFP) while walking.
Only females were recruited for this study because of their increased risk of PFP and to control for potential structural and foot stiffness variations between the sexes.
Participants were required to be 18 to 35 years old, run a minimum of 10 miles per week, and report their activity level as greater than or equal to 5 of 10 on the Tegner activity scale (a measure of regular participation in recreational sports activities that require running or jumping.)
Plantar pressure measurements were collected during barefoot walking using a pedography analyser and a capacitive pressure measurement platform that was centred flush in a level walkway.
Three trials of the dominant foot stance phase were measured on the pressure platform; three trials were required to achieve good test-retest reliability for the discrete variables measured during overground walking.
The dominant foot was defined as the foot that the participant would select to kick a ball.
Gait pressure data were analysed using a software package; for each trial, the plantar loading distribution of the footprint was divided into ten regions: metatarsal head (MH) 1, MH2, MH3, MH4, MH5, hallux, second toe, toes 3 to 5, midfoot, and calcaneus.
In each region, three variables were calculated: peak force, force-time integral, and contact area.
Arch index was also calculated from the pressure platform data by dividing the midfoot region contact area by the contact area of the entire foot, excluding the toes.
In the present study, females wth PFP had less midfoot and MH1 contact area and peak force compared with females without PFP.
Decreased medial forefoot loading and decreased midfoot contact suggest decreased foot pronation during gait in females with PFP relative to females without PFP.
Females with PFP in the present study had a greater mean arch index than females without PFP.
These data contribute to rationale for footwear modifications to modify plantar loading characteristics in people experiencing PFP
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