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*Foot Position Awareness in Younger and Older Men: Influence of Shoe Sole Materials

TITLE: Foot Position Awareness in Younger and Older Men: Influence of Shoe Sole Properties 1997-5.pdf

 Accessible Summary:
Synopsis: In this experiment balance testing was performed as well as foot position awareness in the form as accuracy in estimating foot position in the frontal plane (medial-lateral).  Balance failures correlated well with error in plantar surface position judgement. This report indicates that instability in humans is a function of their ability to judge the position and orientation of the plantar surface in relation to support surface.  It shows that footwear sole properties influence proprioception with decline in proprioception when soles become thicker and softer.  It suggests that when plantar tactile information is low, such as when wearing shoes, humans rely probably on muscle receptors for foot position judgments.  These judgments are influenced by the rapid oscillatory movements caused by footwear. Unlike tactile receptors, muscle receptors are subject to aftereffects causing them to code less precisely when subjects to rapidly changing high amplitude stimuli.  Proprioception was amazingly precise when barefoot.  Since the support surface was smooth tactile information was not used. Rather the precise proprioception was due to low amplitude of medial-lateral foot movement.
Significance:  This strongly supports to earlier hypotheses that high resiliency sole materials cause loss in proprioception which results in loss of stability.  It suggests that stability when wearing footwear would be improved if sole material were of low resiliency, thereby eliminating oscillatory foot movements when loaded.