The effect of unstable shoe designs on the variability of gait measures

Mona Khoury-Mireb, Deborah Solomonow-Avnon, Nimrod Rozen, Alon Wolf
Gait & Posture 2019 January 14, 69: 60-65

BACKGROUND: Unstable footwear designs are popular as training devices to strengthen human neuromuscular control, and many studies have evaluated their effect on gait parameters in comparison to conventional footwear designs. However, there is minimal research on variability of gait measures during walking with unstable shoes. Therefore, the study objective was to compare variability of gait measures between stable and unstable shoe configurations, in conjunction with kinematic and kinetic changes.

METHODS: Fifteen healthy male subjects walked in both a stable and unstable footwear device configuration while full-body gait kinematic and kinetic data was collected. Averages and standard deviations of gait trials were compared between the two configurations at different stages of each step.

RESULTS: Comparison of gait variability between both footwear configurations revealed that variability of frontal-plane foot center of pressure offset, transverse-plane ankle moment, and frontal-plane shoulder angle decreased significantly while walking in the unstable configuration, while transverse-plane spine angle variability increased. No changes in variability of gait measures at the knee, hip, or pelvis were observed. Kinematic and kinetic changes were observed throughout the whole body with the unstable shoe.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the unstable device used in the study may reduce gait variability at the two extremes of the kinematic chain (i.e., foot, ankle, and shoulders), but increase variability of spine rotation angle. This may suggest a compensatory mechanism to maintain both stability and adaptability, and may have potential clinical implications for gait retraining and enhancing dynamic gait stability and joint stability, pending further investigation.


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