A technique for measuring absolute toe pressures: evaluation of pressure-sensitive film techniques

Although a number of pathologies of the forefoot in ballet dancers on pointe have been described, pressures and deforming forces have not been adequately measured. To evaluate the possible use of pressure-sensitive film (PSF) in measuring the pressures on the external soft tissues in such a confined space as the dancer’s toe shoe, it was tested and calibrated with 20 cadaver toes. Each cadaver toe was internally stabilized and loaded longitudinally against PSF on a flat surface. The resultant films were analyzed with a video imaging system and the pressures and total forces were determined. Results showed that the linearity of the PSF to pressure had a regression value of 0.98. By using two sensitivity ranges of films, the total force measured by the PSF was found to be within 10% of the known applied force on each toe. The PSF, therefore, may very well be a useful and accurate method of measuring external soft tissue pressures on the forefoot.

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