What foot type do we have here?

OK, so this gentlemen comes in with knee pain, L > R and an interesting “jog” in his gait from midstance to toe off (ie, the 2nd half of his gait cycle). 

A few questions for you:

Q: What foot type does he have?

A: Forefoot valgus, L > R. The forefoot is everted with respect to the rear foot. Need to brush up? click here and here for a refresher

Q: What is the next question you should be asking?

A: Is it a rigid deformity (ie the 1st ray is “stuck” in plantar flexion or flexible (ie, the 1st ray can move into dorsiflexion. Hint: look for a callus under the base of the big toe in a rigid deformity

Q: Which is the best type of shoe for this person? Motion control, guidance or neutral?

A: most likely, neutral. A motion control shoe will usually keep the foot in more relative inversion, and that may be a bad thing for this person. Mobility is key, so a flexible shoe would probably be best.

Q: Would a conventional or zero drop shoe be appropriate?

A: A conventional shoe, with a higher ramp delta, will most likely accentuate the deformity (especially if it is a rigid deformity). This is for at least 2 reasons: 1. plantar flexion is part of supination (due to the higher heel; remember plantar flexion, inversion and adduction) and this will make the foot more rigid. 2. The medial side of the foot will be hitting the ground 1st; if the 1st ray is in plantar flexion, this will be accentuated. 

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Too much pressure for the holidays? Take a look at that midsole of yours…

In the vein of last weeks post on plantar pressures, we find that midsoles DO DECREASE plantar pressures, especially across the midfoot (30% less pressure in this study), again dependent on foot type (In this study, low vs high arched individuals). They also INCREASE plantar contact area. Contact area can be useful for helping to influence biomechanics of different foot types (often more contact area = more force attenuation)

We also saw that they increase pressures LATERALLY (see our post here).

Bottom line? You need to look at foot type and remember that “shoes are medicine”. Watch what you are prescribing and think about what you are trying to accomplish. There is no substitute for good biomechanics.

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Shoe Types and plantar pressures

J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2009 Jul-Aug;99(4):330-8. Effect of running shoe type on the distribution and magnitude of plantar pressures in individuals with low- or high-arched feet. Molloy JM, Christie DS, Teyhen DS, Yeykal NS, Tragord BS, Neal MS, Nelson ES, McPoil T. Source US Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy, Ft Sam Houston, TX 78234-6138, USA. Joseph.Molloy@amedd.army.mil


Research addressing the effect of running shoe type on the low- or high-arched foot during gait is limited. We sought 1) to analyze mean plantar pressure and mean contact area differences between low- and high-arched feet across three test conditions, 2) to determine which regions of the foot (rearfoot, midfoot, and forefoot) contributed to potential differences in mean plantar pressure and mean contact area, and 3) to determine the association between the static arch height index and the dynamic modified arch index.


Plantar pressure distributions for 75 participants (40 low arched and 35 high arched) were analyzed across three conditions (nonshod, motion control running shoes, and cushioning running shoes) during treadmill walking.


In the motion control and cushioning shoe conditions, mean plantar contact area increased in the midfoot (28% for low arched and 68% for high arched), whereas mean plantar pressure decreased by approximately 30% relative to the nonshod condition. There was moderate to good negative correlation between the arch height index and the modified arch index.


Cushioning and motion control running shoes tend to increase midfoot mean plantar contact area while decreasing mean plantar pressure across the low- or high-arched foot.

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