Maasai tribe members walk long distances daily either barefoot or wearing traditional shoes made from recycled car tires, without any foot ailments. To figure out the characteristic of their feet, we designed a radiographic comparative study of middle-aged partially shod Maasai women's feet and regularly shod Maasai and Korean women's feet.
Weight bearing radiographs of bilateral foot and ankle joints from 20 healthy middle-aged bush-living partially shod (PS) Maasai women were obtained. Same number of radiographs from 20 urban-living regularly shod (RS) Maasai and 20 Korean women were obtained and compared. The hallux valgus angle, the first to second intermetatarsal angle, talonavicular coverage angle, talo-first metatarsal angle, Meary angle, naviculo-cuboidal overlap, and the medial cuneiform height were measured to establish the degree of pes plano-valgus and hallux valgus deformity.
On comparing PS and RS Maasai groups radiographically, the talonavicular coverage angle, talo-first metatarsal angle, and naviculo-cuboidal overlap were significantly greater in the PS Maasai group, whereas hallux valgus angle, the first and second intermetatarsal angle, Meary angle, and the medial cuneiform height were greater in the RS Maasai and Korean group.
Regularly wearing shoes would protect the feet from pes plano-valgus deformity, despite potentially contributing to hallux valgus deformity.