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Effects of shoe sole geometry on toe clearance and walking stability in older adults

Thies, SBA, Price, C, Kenney, LPJ and Baker, RD 2015, 'Effects of shoe sole geometry on toe clearance and walking stability in older adults' , Gait and Posture, 42 (2) , pp. 105-109.

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Thirty-five percent of people above age 65 fall each year, and half of their falls are associated with tripping: tripping, an apparently ‘mundane’ everyday problem, therefore significantly impacts on older people's health and associated medical costs. To avoid tripping and subsequent falling, sufficient toe clearance during the swing phase is crucial. We previously found that a rocker-shaped shoe sole enhances toe clearance in young adults, thereby decreasing their trip-risk. This study investigates whether such sole design also enhances older adults’ toe clearance, without inadvertently affecting their walking stability. Toe clearance and its variability are reported together with measures of walking stability for twelve older adults, walking in shoes with rocker angles of 10°, 15°, and 20° degrees. Surface inclinations (flat, incline, decline) were chosen to reflect a potential real-world environment. Toe clearance increased substantially from the 10° to the 15° degree rocker angle (p = 0.003) without compromising measures of walking stability (p > 0.05). A further increase in rocker angle to 20° degrees resulted in less substantial enhancement of toe clearance and came at the cost of a decrease in gait speed on the decline. The novelty of this investigation lies in the exploration of the trade-off between reduction of trip- risk through footwear design and adverse effects on walking stability on real-life relevant surfaces. A large amount of slip-resistant footwear is already available; our two studies highlight that footwear may also be designed to reduce trip-risk.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences > Centre for Health Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: Gait and Posture
Publisher: Elsevier
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0966-6362
Related URLs:
Funders: Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust
Depositing User: SBA Thies
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2015 14:40
Last Modified: 06 May 2016 07:57

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