Exploring the Effect of Ankle Braces on Foot Posture

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Virginia Tech


Foot posture is an important characteristic that can affect kinematics, plantar loading, and injury risk. Arch height is one common aspect of foot posture, and it is estimated that about 60% of the population has normal arches while 40% of the population is either pes planus or pes cavus. It is important to be able to accurately and reliably assess foot posture characteristics in order to propose interventions that could prevent injuries due to abnormal foot alignment. However, despite multiple classification metrics, many of the devices that are commonly used for foot posture measurements are not economically feasible for smaller clinics or research labs. Therefore, the first purpose of this study was to develop an affordable device to measure different foot posture characteristics. The Foot Posture Measurement System was developed and can measure total foot length, truncated foot length, foot width, dorsum height, and navicular height. This system was shown to have good to excellent validity (ICC = 0.908-0.994) and repeatability (ICC = 0.867-0.996) when compared to a 3D scanner. This device was then used in the second portion of this study, which evaluated the effects of ankle braces on plantar loading patterns in individuals with different foot postures. Contact area, peak force, force-time integral, and center of pressure were evaluated during a walk, run, and cut while the participant was unbraced, wearing a lace-up stabilizer brace, and wearing a semi-rigid brace. It was demonstrated that arch height did affect the maximum plantar forces during all tasks (p=0.001-0.047), as hypothesized based on previous studies. Additionally, this study found that ankle braces affected contact area (p=0.001-0.0014), maximum force (p<0.001 – p=0.043), and force-time integral (p<0.001 – p=0.015) during the walk, run, and cut. This is a novel finding and points to the potential for an impact of ankle braces on plantar loading during athletic activities, independent of foot type.



foot measurement, ankle brace, arch height, plantar loading