Plantar pressure variability and asymmetry in elderly performing 60-minute treadmill brisk-walking: Paving the way towards fatigue-induced instability assessment using wearable in-shoe pressure sensors

Guoxin Zhang, Duo Wai Chi Wong, Ivy Kwan Kei Wong, Tony Lin Wei Chen, Tommy Tung Ho Hong, Yinghu Peng, Yan Wang, Qitao Tan, Ming Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Evaluation of potential fatigue for the elderly could minimize their risk of injury and thus encourage them to do more physical exercises. Fatigue-related gait instability was often assessed by the changes of joint kinematics, whilst planar pressure variability and asymmetry parameters may complement and provide better estimation. We hypothesized that fatigue condition (induced by the treadmill brisk-walking task) would lead to instability and could be reflected by the variability and asymmetry of plantar pressure. Fifteen elderly adults participated in the 60-min brisk walking trial on a treadmill without a pause, which could ensure that the fatigue-inducing effect is continuous and participants will not recover halfway. The plantar pressure data were extracted at baseline, the 30th min, and the 60th min. The median of contact time, peak pressure, and pressure-time integrals in each plantar region was calculated, in addition to their asymmetry and variability. After 60 min of brisk walking, there were significant increases in peak pressure at the medial and lateral arch regions, and central metatarsal regions, in addition to their impulses (p < 0.05). In addition, the variability of plantar pressure at the medial arch was significantly increased (p < 0.05), but their asymmetry was decreased. On the other hand, the contact time was significantly increased at all plantar regions (p < 0.05). The weakened muscle control and shock absorption upon fatigue could be the reason for the increased peak pressure, impulse, and variability, while the improved symmetry and prolonged plantar contact time could be a compensatory mechanism to restore stability. The outcome of this study can facilitate the development of gait instability or fatigue assessment using wearable in-shoe pressure sensors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3217
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Balance
  • Gait instability
  • Gait parameters
  • Pedobarography
  • Prolonged walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Information Systems
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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