Plantar pressures increase with raising body weight: A standardised approach with paired sample using neutral shoes

Background: Plantar pressure leads to stress on plantar tissue and can be seen as risk factor for metatarsal stress fractures or plantar ulcers and is associated with prolonged and complicated recurrence of existing tissue damages. A clear demarcation of a systematic raise of body load regarding its effect on plantar pressure has not been described.

Objective: Assessing plantar pressure patterns in different conditions of body weight, comparing data to initial body weight.

Methods: Seventeen healthy volunteers were asked to participate. Peak pressure values were assessed during walking with dynamic pedobarography and analysed from three foot sections. Body weight was loaded up gradually with 10%, 20% and 30% of the individual initial weight by using a weighted vest.

Results: We were able to detect a statistically significant increase of plantar pressure for all foot regions in case of loaded body weight of 20% and 30% comparing to initial weight (p< 0.05). The midfoot area displays a significant increase for peak pressure for the preferred foot even for 10% body load.

Conclusions: Peak plantar pressure increases with loaded body weight. The midfoot area seems to be a sensitive area in case of adapting increasing foot load. Considering the clinical relevance, loaded body weight has to be seen as risk factor for increasing plantar pressure patterns and should be considered in recurrence of plantar ulcers or stress fractures.

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