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Determining Ground Reaction Forces Using a

Pressure Distribution Measuring System


Alexander Kraus1, Stephan Odenwald2

Topics: Measurement Systems, Shoes indicate major topics.

Abstract: In- shoe pressure measurement systems are intended to measure the dispersion of
load between the foot and the shoe. This is achieved, for example, by using insoles which
contain capacitive sensors dispersed over the sole of the foot. Based on the resulting pressure
distribution data there is the option to calculate the interacting forces
In the present study the accuracy of the calculated forces is detected by means of a compa-
rison with real ground reaction forces. For that it is used the Pedar® system by novel GmbH
and a Kistler® force plate. Subject- matter is the deviation of the results measured with both
systems depending on several factors, i.e. the surface texture, the number of active sensors in
the measurement, the kind of load (static or dynamic) and fit of the Pedar® insoles to the
shoe. The latter is analyzed in two ways, first by a comparison between barefoot and shoed
measurement to reveal the proportion of error caused by the deformation of the Pedar®
insoles in the foot rest, and second by comparing several insole geometries and its influence
on the accuracy of the results.
Finally, reasons for inexact force measurements are summarized and rated.
Moreover, relevant literature regarding the validity of force values calculated by the Pedar®
system is discussed and the corresponding data is critically reviewed and compared to the
results of the present study.
As a result there are clear dependences between accuracy of the measurement system and the
hardness of surface as well as the number of activated sensors. Dynamic measurements lead
to a better congruity of data because the number of active sensors is less than with static
loading. Furthermore the deformation of the Pedar® insoles contains a significant potential
for failure.
Keywords: force; pressure; pedar; accuracy; jump.

1. Chemnitz University of Technology, Institute of Mechanical and Polymer Engineering, Sports Equipment and Technology,
Reichenhainer Str. 70, 09126 Chemnitz, Germany - E-mail: alexander.kraus,
112 The Engineering of Sport 7 - Vol. 2

1- Introduction
In-shoe pressure measurement systems are intended to measure the dispersion of load
between the foot and the shoe. This is achieved, for example, by using insoles which
contain an array of capacitive sensors dispersed over the sole of the foot.
Based on the resulting pressure distribution data there is the option to calculate the
interacting forces. But this is involved with inaccuracies in a considerable quantity.
In a review of relevant literature several authors observed Pedar was generating lower
force-values than forces which were measured with a force-plate.
In this study the reasons for inexact measurements are compiled.

2- Materials & Methods

To get an overview of the factors that cause inaccuracies in estimating forces with Pedar
the study was separated in three parts: Firstly a literature research to analyse the expe-
riences with this problem up to now, secondly static tests to analyse the influence of
surface hardness and of fit of the insoles and thirdly dynamic tests to determine how
movement changes the precision of measurement.

2.1 Literature research

Literature, published between 1992 and 2006, was searched for keywords like “Pedar,
distribution, force, accuracy, insole, jump” mainly in online search engines, e.g., and The results of 15 studies were
collected for which the pressure-distribution-measurement-system Pedar by Novel was
used to calculate ground reaction forces (GFK) [BK1, CS1, DK1, HG1, PA1, WC1]. A
comparison with force-plates was carried out in eight of these studies, six of which
contain percentage information of inaccuracies [KS1, A1, HB1, BB1, FK1, BC1].

2.2 Static measurements

Pedar Insoles were loaded barefoot with the bodyweight of a test person on several
surfaces, hard PVC coating and soft carpet. The measured parameter was the weight
force of the test person.
In every measurement the test person had to ensure that the COP (centre of pres-
sure) in the horizontal plane was located at the same position below the foot. The control
and correction of the COP was possible by a live transmission of data.
The number of active sensors varied with the test person standing on one leg only
or on both legs. Five trials where collected for each condition.

2.3 Dynamic measurements

Dynamic measurements were performed as Counter-Movement-Jumps on a Kistler
force-plate with Ski-Jumping-Boots equipped with Pedar insoles. The sampling rate of
the Kistler platform was 1000 Hz and the Pedar soles measured with 100 Hz which is
the maximum sampling rate of the system due to activating the complete sensor matrix
of each sole.
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Afterwards, a comparison of values of both measurement systems was carried out.

The Pedar soles were calibrated with the original Novel calibration device. It is consi-
dered as the best calibration method for that system [HG1].

3- Results and Discussion

3.1 Literature research
Figure 1 shows differences between calculated and real ground-reaction-forces of six
studies which contain information of inaccuracies. Brüggemann and Kersting (1997)
[BK1] detected that Pedar generally generates lesser forces than the force-platform.
Two factors have been found in literature to be crucial in this regard, i.e. manner of
measurement and time factors.

Figure 1 - Deviation of force values in studies.

Firstly, there are different accuracies for measurements in shoes or barefoot as well
as differences between static and dynamic loading. The modulus of this deviation
reaches up to 30 %. These maximum values mainly refer to measurements of walking
in shoes. Studies of measuring of GRF while jumping were not found so far.
Secondly, the precision of measurements depends on the age of the Pedar soles
[HG1] and on duration of the measurement [HB1]. According to Arndt et al. [A1], a
creeping of the sensor material and an offset drift lead to errors of 4 % after the first 10
minutes and up to 26 % after 7 hours of testing.
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3.2 Accuracy of static measurements

After calibration, the Pedar soles were put on the floor. The load of the test person’s body
weight was measured and the accuracy was compared between different surfaces.
Afterwards the body weight was measured by putting the Pedar soles into leather shoes.
There is a noticeable difference between the average deviation for barefoot standing
(2.6 %) and for standing in shoes (20.3 %). As surface, the hard PVC coating allows for
more exact measurements (1 % deviation) than the soft carpet (3 %). It is obvious that
the deformation of the insole causes higher deviation from real forces. The direction of
measurement is perpendicular to the surface of the sensors. If they are deformed, which
is more likely on a soft cushion of a shoe than on a hard floor, the direction differs from
direction of the ground reaction force vector and leads to lower values.
Misfits of the insole cause inexact lower force values. If the Pedar soles are too large,
compared to the shoe they will be deformed at the periphery. If they are too small, the
force will be transmitted to the sensor soles and beyond.
The precision of measurements is higher when the test person stands barefoot only
with one foot on a Pedar sole (0.1 % average deviation) than when standing with both
feet (3 % average deviation). The same is true for in-shoe measurements: 35% deviation
for two feet and 23.5 %. average deviation for one foot.
The sources of error will be analyzed in chapter 3.3.

3.3 Accuracy of dynamic measurements

Figure 2 shows the force over time for a Counter- Movement- Jump recorded with the
Pedar insoles and the Kistler force-plate. Within the stance phase (around 5 s) there is a
significant difference of approx. 20 % between both force values. Whereas both forces
are almost the same in the phase of take off (around 6 s).

Figure 2 - force-time-diagram of a Counter-Movement-Jump in comparison of Pedar- and

Kistler force values.
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The difference between the quasi static stance phase and the dynamic take off phase
is due to the different number of activated sensors. While the test person is standing, the
whole foot presses on the insole and nearly all sensors are activated (see figure 3).
However, during take off only the ball and toes set pressure to the insole (see figure 4)
and, respectively, to a lower number of sensors.
A detailed look at one activated sensor at the side of the foot may serve as an expla-
nation: Even though the foot covers only a part of this sensor, the whole area of the
sensor is used for calculating the force that loads it. This calculation results a lower force.
The error is added up with every sensor which is activated but not covered fully by the
foot. The more sensors are activated, the more likely the error is higher.

Figure 3 - Higher number of activated sensors Figure 4 - Lower number of activated sensors
in stance phase. in take-off-phase.

The different number of sensors involved in the measurement on one leg respecti-
vely two legs also accounts for the different accuracies of measurement as described in
chapter 3.2.
The average error of all test jumps is 11 % difference from the values of the force-

4- Summary
As a summary of the mentioned factors which cause differences between calculated
forces and GRF, the following recommendations can be given to increase the accuracy:
• To increase precision of mobile force measurements with the pressure distribution
measurement system Pedar by Novel it is necessary to be aware of some sources of
• The insole of the shoe should be as flat and as hard as possible.
• It is important to consider the number of activated sensors involved in the measu-
rement and which influence the quantity of errors.
116 The Engineering of Sport 7 - Vol. 2

• The insoles should be calibrated more often than the fabricator recommends,
before every study, once a day.
• It is necessary to keep the fabricators recommendations for acclimatization after the
Pedar soles are inserted into a shoe and the test person has put it on.

5- References
[A1] Arndt A.: Correction for sensor creep in the evaluation of long-term plantar pressure data.
In: Journal of Biomechanics 36 (2003), S. 1813–1817.
[BC1] Barnett Sue, Cunningham James L., West Steven: A Comparison of vertical force and tem-
poral parameters produced by an in-shoe pressure measuring system an a force platform. In:
Clinical Biomechanics 16 (2001), S. 353-357.
[BB1] Boyd Lara A., Bontrager Ernest L., Mulroy Sara L., Perry Jacquelyn: The Reliability and
Validity of the Novel Pedar System of In-Shoe Pressure Measurement During Free Ambulation.
In: Gait & Posture (1997), S.165.
[BK1] Brüggemann Gert- Peter, Kersting Uwe: Erfassung der Druckverteilung unter dem Fuß. In:
Medizin und Technik 7/8 (1997), S. 40-45.
[CS1] Chesnin Kenneth J, Selby-Silverstein Lisa, Besser Marcus P.: Comparison of an in-shoe pres-
sure measurement device to a force plate: concurrent validity of center of pressure measurements.
In: Gait & Posture 12 (2000), S. 128-132.
[DK1] DiLiberto F.E., Baumhauer J.F., Wilding G.E., Nawoczenski D.A: Alterations in plantar
pressure with different walking boot designs. In: Foot Ankle Int 28 (2007), S. 55-60.
[FK1] Forner Cordero A., Koopman H.J.F.M., van der Helm F.C.T.: Use of pressure insoles to cal-
culate the complete ground reaction forces. In: Journal of Biomechanics 36 (2004), S. 1427-1432.
[HG1] Hsiao Hongwai, Guan Jinhua, Weatherly Matthew: Accuracy and precision of two in-shoe
pressure measurement systems. In: ERGONOMICS 45/8 (2002), S. 537-555.
[HB1] Hurkmans H.L.P., Bussmann J.B.J., Benda E., Verhaar J.A.N., Stam H.J.: Accuracy and
repeatability of the Pedar Mobile system in long-term vertical force measurements. In: Gait &
Posture 23 (2006), S. 118–125.
[KS1] Kalpen A., Seitz P.: Comparison between the force values measured with the Pedar system
and Kistler platform. In: Gait & Posture 2 (1994), S. 238-239.
[PA1] Putti A.B., Arnold G.P., Cochrane L., Abboud R.J.: The Pedar in-shoe system: Repeatability
and normal pressure values. In: Gait & Posture (2006).
[WC1] WU Ge, Chiangb Jin-Hsien: The effects of surface compliance on foot pressure in stance.
In: Gait & Posture 4 (2006), S. 122-129.