Functional Adaptation of the Calcaneus in Historical Foot Binding.
Reznikov N., Phillips C., Cooke M., Garbout A., Ahmed F., Stevens MM.
The normal structure of human feet is optimized for shock dampening during walking and running. Foot binding was a historical practice in China aimed at restricting the growth of female feet for aesthetic reasons. In a bound foot the shock-dampening function normally facilitated by the foot arches is withdrawn, resulting in the foot functioning as a rigid extension of the lower leg. An interesting question inspiring this study regards the nature of adaptation of the heel bone to this nonphysiological function using the parameters of cancellous bone anisotropy and 3D fabric topology and a novel intertrabecular angle (ITA) analysis. We found that the trabecular microarchitecture of the normal heel bone, but not of the bound foot, adapts to function by increased anisotropy and preferred orientation of trabeculae. The anisotropic texture in the normal heel bone consistently follows the physiological stress trajectories. However, in the bound foot heel bone the characteristic anisotropy pattern fails to develop, reflecting the lack of a normal biomechanical input. Moreover, the basic topological blueprint of cancellous bone investigated by the ITA method is nearly invariant in both normal and bound foot. These findings suggest that the anisotropic cancellous bone texture is an acquired characteristic that reflects recurrent loading conditions; conversely, an inadequate biomechanical input precludes the formation of anisotropic texture. This opens a long-sought-after possibility to reconstruct bone function from its form. The conserved topological parameters characterize the generic 3D fabric of cancellous bone, which is to a large extent independent of its adaptation to recurrent loading and perhaps determines the mechanical competence of trabecular bone regardless of its functional adaptation. © 2017 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.