Recent literature has highlighted that the flexibility of walking barefoot reduces overload in individuals with knee osteoarthritis (OA). As such, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of inexpensive, flexible, non-heeled footwear (Moleca) as compared with a modern heeled shoes and walking barefoot on the knee adduction moment (KAM) during gait in elderly women with and without knee OA. The gait of 45 elderly women between 60 and 70 years of age was evaluated. Twenty-one had knee OA graded 2 or 3 according to Kellgren and Lawrence's criteria, and 24 who had no OA comprised the control group (CG). The gait conditions were: barefoot, Moleca, and modern heeled shoes. Three-dimensional kinematics and ground reaction forces were measured to calculate KAM by inverse dynamics. For both groups, the Moleca provided peak KAM and KAM impulse similar to barefoot walking. For the OA group, the Moleca reduced KAM even more as compared to the barefoot condition during midstance. On the other hand, the modern heeled shoes increased this variable in both groups. Inexpensive, flexible, and non-heeled footwear provided loading on the knee joint similar to a barefoot gait and significant overload decreases in elderly women with and without knee OA, compared to modern heeled shoes. During midstance, the Moleca also allowed greater reduction in the knee joint loads as compared to barefoot gait in elderly women with knee OA, with the further advantage of providing external foot protection during gait.
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