Preliminary shape analysis of the outline of the baropodometric foot: patterns of covariation, allometry, sex and age differences, and loading variations

Aim: Baropodometrical digital techniques map the pressures exerted on the foot plant during both static and dynamic loadings. The study of the distribution of such pressures makes it possible to evaluate the postural and locomotory biomechanics together with its pathological variations. This paper is aimed at evaluating the integration between baropodometric analysis (pressure distribution) and geometrical models (shape of the footprints), investigating the pattern of variation associated with normal plantar morphology.

Methods: The sample includes 91 individuals (47 males, 44 females), ranging from 5 to 85 years of age (mean and standard deviation = 40 + or – 24).The first component of variation is largely associated with the breadth of the isthmus, along a continuous gradient of increasing/decreasing flattening of the foot plant. This character being dominant upon the whole set of morphological components even in a non-pathological sample, such multivariate computation may represent a good diagnostic tool to quantify its degree of expression in individual subject or group samples.

Results: Sexual differences are not significant, and allometric variations associated with increasing plantar surface or stature are not quantitatively relevant. There are some differences between adult and young individuals, associated in the latter with a widening of the medial and posterior areas.

Conclusions: These results provide a geometrical framework of baropodometrical analysis, suggesting possible future applications in diagnosis and basic research.

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