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01-12-2009 | Review | Uitgave 1/2009 Open Access

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 1/2009

Lessons from dynamic cadaver and invasive bone pin studies: do we know how the foot really moves during gait?

Journal of Foot and Ankle Research > Uitgave 1/2009
Christopher J Nester
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1757-1146-2-18) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The author declares that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

The author is the sole writer of this paper. Contributions from prior research collaborations are identified under acknowledgements.



This paper provides a summary of a Keynote lecture delivered at the 2009 Australasian Podiatry Conference. The aim of the paper is to review recent research that has adopted dynamic cadaver and invasive kinematics research approaches to better understand foot and ankle kinematics during gait. It is not intended to systematically cover all literature related to foot and ankle kinematics (such as research using surface mounted markers). Since the paper is based on a keynote presentation its focuses on the authors own experiences and work in the main, drawing on the work of others where appropriate


Two approaches to the problem of accessing and measuring the kinematics of individual anatomical structures in the foot have been taken, (i) static and dynamic cadaver models, and (ii) invasive in-vivo research. Cadaver models offer the advantage that there is complete access to all the tissues of the foot, but the cadaver must be manipulated and loaded in a manner which replicates how the foot would have performed when in-vivo. The key value of invasive in-vivo foot kinematics research is the validity of the description of foot kinematics, but the key difficulty is how generalisable this data is to the wider population.


Through these techniques a great deal has been learnt. We better understand the valuable contribution mid and forefoot joints make to foot biomechanics, and how the ankle and subtalar joints can have almost comparable roles. Variation between people in foot kinematics is high and normal. This includes variation in how specific joints move and how combinations of joints move. The foot continues to demonstrate its flexibility in enabling us to get from A to B via a large number of different kinematic solutions.


Rather than continue to apply a poorly founded model of foot type whose basis is to make all feet meet criteria for the mechanical 'ideal' or 'normal' foot, we should embrace variation between feet and identify it as an opportunity to develop patient-specific clinical models of foot function.

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