Changes in plantar pressure distribution after Achilles tendon augmentation with flexor hallucis longus transfer

F. Hahn, C. Maiwald, Th Horstmann, P. Vienne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Background: Augmentation of the Achilles tendon with flexor hallucis longus is an established method to treat neglected ruptures and severe cases of chronic tendinopathy. After transfer of the muscle/tendon, good pain reduction and improved plantar flexion have been reported. To date, only one study has investigated the effect of FHL transfer on forefoot biomechanics. Theoretically, there should be a partial transfer of forefoot loading towards the lateral metatarsal heads during push-off, resulting in an asymmetric gait. Methods: 13 patients were examined clinically and using pedobarography with a mean follow-up of 46 months (minimum 24) after Achilles tendon augmentation with flexor hallucis longus. Parameters of the forefoot were investigated to detect differences in pressure and force distribution, load transfer to other areas of the forefoot, and asymmetries compared to the non-operated leg. The results are discussed with regard to clinical relevance. Findings: Clinically, there were no subjective or objective gait asymmetries. All patients were free of pain and without restrictions during normal walking. In general, pedobarography showed an unloading of the first toe with a load transfer to the metatarsal heads on the operated side. All results featured high inter-subject and within-subject variability. Interpretation: Due to the high within-subject variability, there is inconsistency within the results making interpretation difficult. However, the results confirm the hypothesis that unloading of the first toe during push-off and an asymmetrical loading pattern can be measured after harvesting of the flexor hallucis longus. The clinical situation of the patients did not reflect a visible amount of gait asymmetry. Differences in loading patterns 2 years after flexor hallucis longus transfer for Achilles tendon augmentation appear to be well compensated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Achilles tendon augmentation
  • Gait asymmetry
  • Pedobarography


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