The purpose of this study was to characterise the soft-tissue movement of the foot-ankle complex by measuring intermarker distance changes between markers attached on the foot-ankle complex during level walking and quiet standing.
Seven healthy young adults participated in the study; all of the participants were free of previous lower-limb injuries.
Nine spherical markers were placed on each individual’s left foot to define three functional regions of the foot: hindfoot (calcaneal region), midfoot (navicular region) and forefoot (first to fifth metatarsals).
To capture the foot markers, a six-camera motion analysis system was used to sample data at 120Hz; there were two trials of double-limb quiet standing and five trials of walking at a self-selected pace.
To characterise the soft-tissue movement of the foot-ankle complex, the relative changes in the intermarker distances were calculated with respect to the baseline distances measured during quiet standing with an optoelectronic skin-based motion capture system for tracking marker positions of the three foot segments – hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot – during the early, middle and late stance periods of level walking.
The three discrete stance periods showed different magnitudes of soft-tissue movement characterised by shortening the intermarker distances in the foot regions during walking.
The early stance periods showed the greatest changes in intermarker distances among the three foot regions, followed by late stance and midstance.
Soft-tissue movement was found in the forefoot region characterised by shortened distances, specifically during early (breaking) stance and late (propulsion) stance.
In the hindfoot region, soft-tissue movement was characterised by shortened and elongated distances during the early and late stance periods, respectively.
The findings of the study provide a feasible and accessible measurement for assessing soft-tissue movement in the foot when skin-based motion markers are used.
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