The plantar pressure distributions for a large heterogeneous sample of feet (N = 107) were collected during barefoot standing using a capacitance mat. From these data, the function of the foot during standing was characterized. Peak pressures under the heel (139 kPa) were, on average, 2.6 times greater than forefoot pressures (53 kPa). Forefoot peak pressures were usually located under the second or third metatarsal heads. No significant relationship was found between body weight and the magnitude of peak pressure. The concepts of a transverse arch at the level of the metatarsal heads and a “tripod” theory of load distribution were not substantiated by this study. Load distribution analysis showed that the heel carried 60%, the midfoot 8%, and the forefoot 28% of the weightbearing load. The toes were only minimally involved in the weightbearing process. Examples of unusual distributions are shown; finally, a checklist is provided to aid the clinician in evaluating plantar pressure findings.
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