Development of a finite element model of female foot for high-heeled shoe design

Jia Yu, Jason Tak Man Cheung, Yubo Fan, Yan Zhang, Kam Lun Leung, Ming Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Wearing high-heeled shoes may produce deleterious effects on the musculoskeletal system while elevation of the shoe heel with arch insole insert is used as a treatment strategy for plantar fasciitis. Due to limitations of the experimental approaches, direct measurements of internal stress/strain of the foot are impossible or invasive. This study aims at developing a finite element model for evaluating the biomechanical effects of high-heeled support on the ankle-foot complex. Methods: A 3D anatomically detailed FE model of the female foot and ankle together with a high-heeled support was developed and used to investigate the plantar contact pressure and internal loading responses of the bony and soft tissue structures of the foot with varying heel heights during simulated balanced standing. Findings: In the balanced standing position with high-heeled support, a pronounced increase in von Mises stress at the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint was predicted. The strain on plantar fascia decreased compared to the flat horizontal support and valgus deformity of the hallux was not significant. Interpretation: The increased stress in forefoot especially at the first MTP segment during prolonged high-heeled standing may contribute to progressive hallux valgus (HV) deformity. However, the reduced tensile strain in the plantar fascia with heel elevation may help relieve plantar fasciitis related pain and inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue numberSUPLL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2008


  • Computational model
  • Foot biomechanics
  • Footwear design
  • Hallux valgus
  • Plantar pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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