Foot arch deformation and plantar fascia loading during running with rearfoot strike and forefoot strike: A dynamic finite element analysis

Tony Lin Wei Chen, Duo Wai Chi Wong, Yan Wang, Jin Lin, Ming Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Forefoot strike becomes popular among runners because it facilitates better impact attenuation. However, forefoot strike may overload the plantar fascia and impose risk of plantar fasciitis. This study aimed to examine and compare the foot arch deformation and plantar fascia tension between different foot strike techniques in running using a computational modelling approach. A three-dimensional finite element foot model was reconstructed from the MRI of a healthy runner. The foot model included twenty bones, bulk soft tissue, ligaments, tendons, and plantar fascia. The time-series data of segmental kinematics, foot muscle force, and ankle joint reaction force were derived from a musculoskeletal model of the same participant based on the motion capture analysis and input as the boundary conditions for the finite element analysis. Rearfoot strike and forefoot strike running were simulated using a dynamic explicit solver. The results showed that, compared to rearfoot strike, forefoot strike reduced the foot arch height by 9.12% and increased the medial longitudinal arch angle by 2.06%. Forefoot strike also increased the plantar connective tissues stress by 18.28–200.11% and increased the plantar fascia tensile force by 18.71–109.10%. Although it is currently difficult to estimate the threshold value of stress or force that results in injury, forefoot strike runners appeared to be more vulnerable to plantar fasciitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-272
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2019


  • Finite element model
  • Foot strike patterns
  • Plantar fascia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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