The first attempts to study the foot performance began with Beeley (1882), who tried to relate the foot pressures with the depth of the podalic footprint on deformable substances (such as mud, clay and gypsum). In this way, however, the shape of the foot instead the load distribution was measured.
Subsequently, Morton (1935) used a rubber mat covered with inked tissue and a layer of paper to measure localised loads. But this method allowed measuring only the pressure peaks occurring under the foot during walking.
Elftman (1934) used a more sophisticated method: placing a video camera under a glass plate it was possible to record the trends of the pressure distributions of the foot when it comes into contact with the glass.
Other studies were performed by connecting pressure transducers in selected anatomical sites (Schwartz and Heath, 1949; Bauman and Brand, 1963) or inserting them into special shoes (Holden and Muncey, 1953). However, the transducer positioning caused problems, transducers were easily damaged and the method was not suitable for a routine use.
In 1976, with Scranton and McMaster, the first studies using pressure-sensitive liquid crystals began.
Today’s systems provide a detailed picture of the podalic pressures, making available both qualitative and quantitative data.