In Motion

The Ins and Outs of Measuring Plantar Pressure

Posted by Oliver Watson

Mar 14, 2014 2:27:00 PM

Plantar pressure measurement is becoming more and more common--see Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotics, but several questions should come to mind. What is Plantar pressure measurement?  How is it relevant to me?  Is plantar pressure measurement accessible?  These are just a few of the questions we will strive to answer within this post.

zFlo, Inc.

What does Plantar Pressure mean, exactly?

Plantar, from the Latin "Planta, plantaris" meaning "sole," refers to the bottom of part of foot, and Plantar Pressure is a determination of the various pressures enacted on the bottom of an individual's foot while standing, walking, and running.  

"Plantar pressure assessment is commonly used in the clinical evaluation of the foot and provides insight into the plantar loading characteristics during functional activities such as walking and running."[1]

There are several different types of Plantar Measurement Devices, such as pressure walkways, insoles, and plates.  Plantar Pressure Measurement technology is not very different from force plate technology--both use sensors to measure the amount of force being generated when a person steps on them, but the process by which the data is filtered and rendered differs.  Force platforms measure the three dimensional ground reaction forces generated by a person moving across them.  Pressure plates have a different sensor arrangement and interpret the data differently.  Often times, a Force Platform will have only a handful (sometimes even just a single loadcell) of extremely sensitive sensors arranged underneath its surface.  Pressure plates, on the other hand, have many more sensors arranged in close proximity as to effectively capture data not only about the pressure [forces] of a subject's foot, but also the outline of the foot and the pressure distribution throughout a stride.   

[3D Ground Reaction Forces generated by AMTI AccuSway ForcePlate]
Force Vector Analysis

Below: [Pressure data coupled with high speed video and marker tracking]
Templo Pressure Measurement

How is Plantar Pressure Measurement relevant to me?

Plantar Pressure Measurement is relevant to a wide range of professionals across several industries.  Athletic trainers and physical therapists can utilize pressure measurement in the evaluation and treatment of athletes, providing benchmark data for gauging recovery and injury probability going forward.   More specifically, Podiatrists can gain specific insight into their patient's feet, both aiding them in diagnosis and evaluation, but also in teaching a patient about what is negatively affecting his or her feet. 

Are Pressure Plates accessible to me?

Yes!  There is a wide range of different pressure plates, walkways, and in-soles available.  However, it is essential to make sure that you choose the right plate for the job.  Please contact us below, and we will be happy to help you find the perfect pressure measurement system!

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[1]Rosenbaum D, Becker H: Plantar pressure distribution measurements. Technical background and clinical applications.
Foot Ankle Surg 1997, 3:1-14.  Full Text

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The zFlo blog is maintained by our team in hopes of providing some insight into the motion-analysis industry. We work with a large number of companies and have over 10 years of experience working with video and optical motion capture technology - this is where we do our best to explain some of the more important aspects of how this technology can be used.