May 2011

Soccer, basketball athletes demonstrate differences in plantar pressure patterns

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Dynamic plantar pressure distributions vary between soccer and basketball players in ways that may have implications for preventing injuries related to repetitive loading, according to research from Spain presented in Monaco in April.

Investigators from Catholic University San Antonio in Murcia, Spain, analyzed dynamic plantar pressures in 72 elite male athletes, 40 soccer players and 32 soccer players. Pressure maps were subdivided into nine anatomical regions, and the regions associated with highest and lowest plantar pressure values were identified.

Peak plantar pressures for athletes from both sports occurred most frequently in the central forefoot (50% of each sport group) followed by the hallux (25% of each group). However, 20% of soccer players had peak pressures in the medial forefoot, compared to just one basketball player.

The lateral arch was most often the site of the lowest pressure areas for athletes from both sports, but more so for soccer players (58%) than basketball players (50%). The lowest pressures were seen in the medial arch in 14 soccer players (35%) and 13 basketball players (41%). And the lateral heel was more likely to experience the lowest pressures in basketball players than in soccer players (12.5% vs 5%).

Although the assessments were not sport-specific, the findings suggest a trend toward more medial loading in soccer players than in basketball players.

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One Response to Soccer, basketball athletes demonstrate differences in plantar pressure patterns

  1. Bjorn Svae says:

    Function follows form. Over 80% of the population structurally overpronates because the first metatarsal is elevated when the foot is placed in subtalar neutral. This is easily demonstrated by simply doing a knee bend while the feet are placed so they are pointing straight forward and parallel. When bending the knees make them track over the middle of the feet. Then move the knees medially toward each other until the first metatarsals pick up weight bearing. In a vast number of cases, the knees will need to move substantially before this occurs meaning they should pronate substantially while standing and walking. Over 60% however do not because they neuromuscularly compensate for the deficiency. Instead they tend to load from center toward the lateral aspect of the feet. Hence you’ll see what the study indicates center loading with excessive pressure on the 2nd and 3rd metatarsals. A smaller group does not muscularly compensate for their structural pronation and as the ankle rolls in and the arch collapses, pressure focuses on the medial aspect of the foot. If you consider proprioception, it stands to reason that different shoes cause different neuromuscular responses. Different conscious sports techniques (postures) will also influence plantar pressures, but the elevated first metatarsal will retain a significant impact. Morton’s Foot Syndrome does impact gait mechanics, and is associated with an elevated first metatarsal. You may learn more about this concept at mortonsfoot.com.

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