Effects of barefoot vs. shod walking during indoor and outdoor conditions in younger and older adults
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHollander, K., Petersen, E., Zech, A., & Hamacher, D. (2021). Effects of barefoot vs. shod walking during indoor and outdoor conditions in younger and older adults. Gait & Posture. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.04.024
Background: Gait stability and variability measures in barefoot and shod locomotion are frequently investigated in younger but rarely in older adults. Moreover, most studies examine gait measures in laboratory settings instead of real-life settings. Research questions: How are gait stability and variability parameters affected by footwear compared to barefoot walking in younger and older adults as well as under indoor vs. outdoor conditions? Methods: Healthy younger (<35 years) and older adults (>65 years) participated in the randomised within- subject study design. Participants conducted consecutive 25 m walking trials barefoot and with standardised footwear inside and outside. Inertial measurement units were mounted on the participant’s foot and used to calculate local dynamic stability (LDS), velocity and minimal toe clearance (MTC), stride length and stride time, including variabilities for these parameters. Linear mixed models were calculated. Results: Data of 32 younger (17 female, 15 male, age: 30±4 years) and 42 older participants (24 female, 18 male, age: 71±4 years) were analysed. MTC variability was higher in shod conditions compared to barefoot (p=0.048) and in outdoor conditions (p<0.001). LDS was different between age groups (p<0.001). Gait velocity and MTC were higher in shod and outdoor conditions (both p<0.001). Stride length and time were higher in shod conditions (both p<0.001) and different between outdoor vs. indoor (longer stride length and shorter stride time outdoor, both (p<0.001) as well as age groups (shorter stride length (p<0.021) and stride time in older adults (p<0.001). Significance: Results suggest that gait stability and variability in older and younger adults are acutely affected by footwear vs. barefoot and indoor vs. outdoor walking conditions, indicating a high adaptiveness of these pa-rameters to different experimental conditions. Consequently, future studies should be careful with generalising results obtained under certain conditions. Findings stress the clinical potential of barefoot walking.