Objective: Examine the effect of gender on plantar loading during three football-specific tasks.
Design: Thirty-four athletes (17 men, 17 women) ran an agility course five times while wearing the Nike Vitoria hard ground cleat. Plantar loading data were recorded during a side cut, a cross-over cut and a forward acceleration task using Pedar-X insoles.
Setting: Controlled laboratory study.
Participants: No history of lower extremity injury in the past 6 months, no previous foot or ankle surgery, not currently wearing foot orthotics and play a cleated sport at least two times per week.
Main outcome measurements: Contact area, maximum force and the force-time integral (FTI) in the medial and lateral midfoot, medial, middle and lateral forefoot as well as the hallux. A univariate ANCOVA (α = 0.05) was performed on each dependent variable (covariate was course speed).
Results: Significant gender differences existed in the force and force-time integral beneath the lateral midfoot and forefoot during the cross-over cut task as well as in the middle forefoot during the side cut task with the men demonstrating an increased force. No significant differences existed in the loading on the medial side of the foot during any tasks.
Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that the increase in plantar loading on the lateral portion of the midfoot and forefoot in men could be one possible explanation for the increased incidence of fifth metatarsal stress fractures in men. Gender differences in loading patterns need to be considered when comparing different movements as well as different footwear conditions.
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Patient consent: Informed consent was obtained for publication of fig 3.
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