The Role of the Midfoot in Drop Landings

Purpose: The midfoot is instrumental to foot function; however, quantifying its roles in human movement has been difficult. A forceful dynamic activity like landing may help elucidate the midfoot’s contribution to foot energetics and function. The main purpose of this study was to measure midtarsal joint kinematics and kinetics during a barefoot single-leg landing task. A secondary aim of this study was to explore the relationship between static foot posture and dynamic midfoot function.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study design, 48 females (age = 20.4 ± 1.8 yr, body mass index = 21.6 ± 1.7 kg·m) performed drop landings from a height of 0.4 m onto split force platforms. Subjects hung from wooden rings and landed on their dominant leg. Midtarsal joint kinematic and kinetic data were recorded using a 14-camera optical motion capture system in conjunction with two in-ground force platforms and a custom kinetic three-segment foot model. Foot structure was measuring using the arch height index (AHI) and the static midtarsal joint angle from motion capture.

Results: Kinematic data revealed an average sagittal plane midtarsal joint range of motion of 27° through the landing phase. Kinetic data showed that between 7% and 22% of the total lower extremity joint, work during the landing was performed by the midtarsal joint. Both standing AHI and static midtarsal joint angle (static MA) were correlated with sagittal plane midtarsal joint range of motion (standing AHI: r = -0.320, P = 0.026; static MA: r = 0.483, P < 0.001) and with midtarsal joint work (standing AHI: r = 0.332, P = 0.021; static MA: r = -0.323, P = 0.025).

Conclusion: The midfoot contributes substantially to landing mechanics during a barefoot single-leg landing task. Static foot posture measures have limited value in predicting midfoot kinematics and kinetics during sportlike landings.

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