The effect of gender, age, and lateral dominance on arch height and arch stiffness

Background: Arch structure is known to vary widely. However, it may be linked to intrinsic factors such as gender, age, and lateral dominance. Understanding the association between these factors and arch structure may be useful in understanding injury biases that exist between individuals with different foot types.

Methods: The foot structure of 145 subjects, 68 men and 77 women (18 to 65 years) was examined in this study. The arch height index, a measure of dorsal height normalized to foot length, and arch stiffness of both feet were measured in each subject. Comparisons of both arch height and arch stiffness were made between genders and between the dominant and nondominant feet. In addition, the relationship between both arch height and stiffness and age was examined.

Results: There was no difference between the arch height index of men and women; however, the arches in women were significantly less stiff (p = 0.00). There were no statistically significant relationships between increasing age and either arch height index or stiffness. The within-subject comparisons showed that the dominant foot had a significantly higher arch height index than the nondominant foot (p = 0.00). However, arch stiffness was not different between sides. There was a significant, but weak, relationship between arch height index and arch stiffness (p = 0.00, R2 = 0.09) with a higher arch height index corresponding to a stiffer arch.

Conclusion: Understanding differences in arch structure may lend insight into the predilection for injury between genders, with increasing age, and between sides of a given subject.

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