Biomechanics of slips

Ergonomics. 2001 Oct 20;44(13):1138-66. doi: 10.1080/00140130110085547.


The biomechanics of slips are an important component in the prevention of fall-related injuries. The purpose of this paper is to review the available literature on the biomechanics of gait relevant to slips. This knowledge can be used to develop slip resistance testing methodologies and to determine critical differences in human behaviour between slips leading to recovery and those resulting in falls. Ground reaction forces at the shoe-floor interface have been extensively studied and are probably the most critical biomechanical factor in slips. The ratio of the shear to normal foot forces generated during gait, known as the required coefficient of friction (RCOF) during normal locomotion on dry surfaces or 'friction used/achievable' during slips, has been one biomechanical variable most closely associated with the measured frictional properties of the shoe/floor interface (usually the coefficient of friction or COF). Other biomechanical factors that also play an important role are the kinematics of the foot at heel contact and human responses to slipping perturbations, often evident in the moments generated at the lower extremity joints and postural adaptations. In addition, it must be realized that the biomechanics are dependent upon the capabilities of the postural control system, the mental set of the individual, and the perception of the environment, particularly, the danger of slipping. The focus of this paper is to review what is known regarding the kinematics and kinetics of walking on surfaces under a variety of environmental conditions. Finally, we discuss future biomechanical research needs to help to improve walkway-friction measurements and safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Architectural Accessibility
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Floors and Floorcoverings / standards
  • Foot / physiology
  • Friction
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Kinetics
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Surface Properties