Effect of metatarsal phalangeal joint extension on plantar soft tissue stiffness and thickness

Christopher A. Garcia, Shannon L. Hoffman, Mary K. Hastings, Joseph W. Klaesner, Michael J. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Plantar soft tissue stiffness and thickness are important biomechanical variables to understand stress concentrations that may contribute to tissue injury. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of passive metatarsal phalangeal joint (MPJ) extension on plantar soft tissue stiffness and thickness. Methods: Seventeen healthy participants (7 male, 10 female, mean age 25.3 years, S.D. 4.4 years, mean BMI 24.7 kg/m2, S.D. 3.2 kg/m2) were tested. Plantar soft tissue stiffness and thickness were measured at the metatarsal heads, midfoot and heel using a custom-built indentor device and an ultrasound machine. Results: Indicators of soft tissue stiffness (K1 values) at the metatarsal heads and midfoot showed increases in stiffness of 81-88% (S.D. 20-33%) in the MPJ extension position compared with the MPJ neutral position. Soft tissue thickness measures at the metatarsal heads with the MPJ in neutral ranged from a mean of 8.9 to 13.5 mm and decreased, on average, by 8.8% (S.D. 2.9%) with MPJ extension. Conclusions: MPJ extension has a profound effect on increasing forefoot plantar soft tissue stiffness and a consistent but minimal effect on reducing soft tissue thickness. These changes may help transform the foot into a rigid lever at push-off consistent with the theory of the windlass mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-67
Number of pages7
JournalFoot
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Keywords

  • Material properties
  • Plantar fascia
  • Plantar tissue
  • Soft tissue stiffness
  • Soft tissue thickness
  • Windlass mechanism

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