How to Take a Pedal Pulse

Updated November 21, 2016

Of the various pulse points on the body, the pedal pulse (the pulse found in your foot) is often one of the most difficult to locate. Pulses that are further from the core of the body tend to be fainter than those closer to the heart, and the bony structure of the foot makes it very easy to press too hard when palpating, causing further difficulty in locating the pedal pulse. However, it is a relatively simple procedure that with patience and practice you can become proficient in.

Have the person whose pedal pulse you are taking lie down for about 5 minutes prior to beginning.

Remove the person's shoes and socks.

Place the forefinger and middle finger of your dominant hand on top the person's foot at the area where the big toe and first toe meet the foot.

Gently feel along the top of the foot, working your way in line toward the person's leg, until you feel the pedal pulse. Usually the pulse can be felt along this line in the area opposite the arch.

Upon identification of the pulse, count the number of beats for a full 60 seconds. Note any irregular rhythms. The average resting heart rate for an adult is anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute, and may be slightly higher in children, usually averaging between 70 and 100 heartbeats per minute.

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