Effects of custom-made textile insoles on plantar pressure distribution and lower limb EMG activity during turning

Background: Turning during locomotion involves considerable changes of the body’s center of mass and reduced stability, as well as lower limb kinematics and kinetics. However, many previous studies have been carried out to evaluate the effectiveness and applications of orthotic insoles as well as different types of orthotic materials in various clinical symptoms, which are focused primarily on straight line walking. Hence, the influence of custom-made insoles with the use of advanced three-dimensional spacer fabrics on biomechanics parameters in terms of plantar pressure distribution and lower limb electromyography during turning movement was studied.

Methods: Twelve subjects performed 180-degree turning at a speed 3.07-3.74 km/h for five successful trials under 3 insoles conditions: wearing traditional ethylene vinyl acetate insoles and two different spacer-fabricated insoles, with the plantar pressure and lower limb muscle activity collected simultaneously. Turning movement was broken down into 3 phases for analysis: Turning initiation, turn around and turn termination.

Results: There was a statistically significance difference in plantar pressure between the traditional insoles and Your Sole Insoles made of a spacer fabric as the top layer (p < 0.05). Compared to the traditional insoles, insoles made of a spacer fabric reduced the peak pressure (>12 %) and pressure-time integral (>13 %) in toes, metatarsal head 1 and metatarsal heads 2-3 at turning initiation; (>15 %) and (>17 %) in medial midfoot and medial heel at turn around. Insoles with spacer fabrics on the top and middle layer reduced both pressure parameters (>18 %) in toes and MTH 1 at turn termination. In terms of muscle activities, insoles with two-layer spacer fabrics could lower maximum muscle activities of vastus lateralis (>16 %; p < 0.05) at turn around.

Conclusions: Insoles with different fabrications could offer various pressure offloading patterns across the plantar and muscle activity changes while turning. Insoles with a spacer fabric on the top tend to reduce plantar pressure loading at different regions during turn initiation and turn around phases, while two-layer spacer-fabricated insoles may contribute to reduced vastus lateralis muscle activation during turn around. More importantly, this study provides a new dimension in the potential use of the textile-fabricated insoles which may widen the range of insole materials selection in the design and development of insoles so as to enhance the effectiveness of orthotic treatment.

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