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Salient features of the Maasai foot: analysis of 1,096 Maasai subjects.

Choi JY, Suh JS, Seo L - Clin Orthop Surg (2014)

Bottom Line: Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot ailments.Dynamic footprints showed even pressure patterns throughout the forefoot (64.87%), followed by lateral forefoot pressure concentration patterns (21.81%).Our study shows the distinct parameters that provide more insight into the Maasai foot.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mount Meru Regional Hospital, Arusha, Tanzania.

ABSTRACT

Background: The Maasai are the most widely known African ethnic group located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Most spend their days either barefoot or in their traditional shoes made of car tires. Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot ailments. Little is known about their foot structure and gait. The goal of this investigation was to characterize various aspects of Maasai foot in standing and walking.

Methods: Foot length, calf circumference, hindfoot alignment, step length, cadence, and walking velocity were obtained from 1,096 adult Maasai people (545 males and 551 females; mean age, 40.28 ± 14.69 years; age range, 16 to 65 years). All included subjects were from rural areas, where the primary terrain was sandy soil, who spend most of their lifetime barefoot, walking. They all denied any medical history or previous symptoms related to foot problems. A trained clinician scanned all feet for deformities. Static (standing) and dynamic (walking) Harris mat footprints were taken to determine the distribution of forefoot pressure patterns during walking.

Results: The average foot length was 250.14 ± 18.12 mm (range, 210 to 295 mm) and calf circumference was 32.50 ± 3.22 cm (range, 25 to 41 cm). The mean hindfoot alignment was 6.21° ± 1.55° of valgus. Sixty-four subjects (5.84%) had bilateral flat-shaped feet with a low medial longitudinal arch that exactly matched the broad pattern of their static footprints. Step length, cadence, and walking velocity were 426.45 ± 88.73 cm (range, 200 to 690 cm), 94.35 steps/min (range, 72 to 111 steps/min), and 40.16 ± 8.36 m/min (range, 18.20 to 63.36 m/min), respectively. A total of 83.39% subjects showed unilateral or bilateral deformities of multiple toes regardless of age. The most frequent deformity was clawing (98.79%) of which the highest incidence occurred with the fifth toe (93.23%). Dynamic footprints showed even pressure patterns throughout the forefoot (64.87%), followed by lateral forefoot pressure concentration patterns (21.81%).

Conclusions: Our study shows the distinct parameters that provide more insight into the Maasai foot.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Maasai traditional shoes made of car tires.
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Figure 1: Maasai traditional shoes made of car tires.

Mentions: The Maasai, the most widely known African ethnic group, are located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They migrated south from the lower Nile Valley around the 15th century. They have continued their old customs for years, despite government programs to encourage them to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. Most of them still spend their days either barefoot or in their traditional shoes made of car tires (Fig. 1). Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot aliments. MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology, Masai Marketing & Trading AG, Winterthur, Switzerland) footwear was born in 1996 when it was discovered that natural rolling gait can have positive effects on the human body. Based on Maasai traditional footwear design, MBT introduced shoes are characterized by a rounded sole in the anterior-posterior direction, imitating a rocker shape of the foot, with a cushioned sensor underneath the rear of the foot. The invention has been commercialized. Several studies on MBT shoes have focused on the ankle, knee, and hip joint relationships. Roberts et al.1) found that MBT sandals increased the range of motion of the ankle and subtalar joint complex in the frontal and sagittal planes. Nigg et al.2) found that an increase in the angle of ankle dorsiflexion in MBT shoes compared to a standard training shoe was evident. Vernon et al.3) also reported that subjects exhibited significantly higher maximum dorsiflexion at the ankle joint when wearing MBT shoes. Buchecker et al.4) have stated that the use of MBT shoes might reduce the risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis in the elderly and might play an important role in pain prevention and disability. However, it should be noted that these studies were based on the assumption that the parameters for Maasai foot anatomy and gait arae the same as other ethnic groups. For this reason, the aim of current study was to characterize various aspects of the Maasai foot in standing and walking.


Salient features of the Maasai foot: analysis of 1,096 Maasai subjects.

Choi JY, Suh JS, Seo L - Clin Orthop Surg (2014)

Maasai traditional shoes made of car tires.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4233220&req=5

Figure 1: Maasai traditional shoes made of car tires.
Mentions: The Maasai, the most widely known African ethnic group, are located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They migrated south from the lower Nile Valley around the 15th century. They have continued their old customs for years, despite government programs to encourage them to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. Most of them still spend their days either barefoot or in their traditional shoes made of car tires (Fig. 1). Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot aliments. MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology, Masai Marketing & Trading AG, Winterthur, Switzerland) footwear was born in 1996 when it was discovered that natural rolling gait can have positive effects on the human body. Based on Maasai traditional footwear design, MBT introduced shoes are characterized by a rounded sole in the anterior-posterior direction, imitating a rocker shape of the foot, with a cushioned sensor underneath the rear of the foot. The invention has been commercialized. Several studies on MBT shoes have focused on the ankle, knee, and hip joint relationships. Roberts et al.1) found that MBT sandals increased the range of motion of the ankle and subtalar joint complex in the frontal and sagittal planes. Nigg et al.2) found that an increase in the angle of ankle dorsiflexion in MBT shoes compared to a standard training shoe was evident. Vernon et al.3) also reported that subjects exhibited significantly higher maximum dorsiflexion at the ankle joint when wearing MBT shoes. Buchecker et al.4) have stated that the use of MBT shoes might reduce the risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis in the elderly and might play an important role in pain prevention and disability. However, it should be noted that these studies were based on the assumption that the parameters for Maasai foot anatomy and gait arae the same as other ethnic groups. For this reason, the aim of current study was to characterize various aspects of the Maasai foot in standing and walking.

Bottom Line: Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot ailments.Dynamic footprints showed even pressure patterns throughout the forefoot (64.87%), followed by lateral forefoot pressure concentration patterns (21.81%).Our study shows the distinct parameters that provide more insight into the Maasai foot.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mount Meru Regional Hospital, Arusha, Tanzania.

ABSTRACT

Background: The Maasai are the most widely known African ethnic group located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Most spend their days either barefoot or in their traditional shoes made of car tires. Although they walk long distances of up to sixty kilometers a day, they do not suffer from any foot ailments. Little is known about their foot structure and gait. The goal of this investigation was to characterize various aspects of Maasai foot in standing and walking.

Methods: Foot length, calf circumference, hindfoot alignment, step length, cadence, and walking velocity were obtained from 1,096 adult Maasai people (545 males and 551 females; mean age, 40.28 ± 14.69 years; age range, 16 to 65 years). All included subjects were from rural areas, where the primary terrain was sandy soil, who spend most of their lifetime barefoot, walking. They all denied any medical history or previous symptoms related to foot problems. A trained clinician scanned all feet for deformities. Static (standing) and dynamic (walking) Harris mat footprints were taken to determine the distribution of forefoot pressure patterns during walking.

Results: The average foot length was 250.14 ± 18.12 mm (range, 210 to 295 mm) and calf circumference was 32.50 ± 3.22 cm (range, 25 to 41 cm). The mean hindfoot alignment was 6.21° ± 1.55° of valgus. Sixty-four subjects (5.84%) had bilateral flat-shaped feet with a low medial longitudinal arch that exactly matched the broad pattern of their static footprints. Step length, cadence, and walking velocity were 426.45 ± 88.73 cm (range, 200 to 690 cm), 94.35 steps/min (range, 72 to 111 steps/min), and 40.16 ± 8.36 m/min (range, 18.20 to 63.36 m/min), respectively. A total of 83.39% subjects showed unilateral or bilateral deformities of multiple toes regardless of age. The most frequent deformity was clawing (98.79%) of which the highest incidence occurred with the fifth toe (93.23%). Dynamic footprints showed even pressure patterns throughout the forefoot (64.87%), followed by lateral forefoot pressure concentration patterns (21.81%).

Conclusions: Our study shows the distinct parameters that provide more insight into the Maasai foot.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus