A constitutive model for the mechanical characterization of the plantar fascia
A constitutive model is proposed to describe the mechanical behavior of the plantar fascia. The mechanical characterization of the plantar fascia regards the role in the foot biomechanics and it is involved in many alterations of its functional behavior, both of mechanical and nonmechanical origin. The structural conformation of the plantar fascia in its middle part is characterized by the presence of collagen fibers reinforcing the tissue along a preferential orientation, which is that supporting the major loading. According to this anatomical evidence, the tissue is described by developing an isotropic fiber-reinforced constitutive model and since the elastic response of the fascia is here considered, the constitutive model is based on the theory of hyperelasticity. The model is consistent with a kinematical description of large strains mechanical behavior, which is typical of soft tissues. A fitting procedure of the constitutive model is implemented making use of experimental curves taken from the literature and referring to specimens of human plantar fascia. A satisfactory fitting of the tensile behavior of the plantar fascia has been performed, showing that the model correctly interprets the mechanical behavior of the tissue in the light of comparison to experimental data at disposal. A critical analysis of the model with respect to the problem of the identification of the constitutive parameters is proposed as the basis for planning a future experimental investigation of mechanical behavior of the plantar fascia.