Biomechanics of walking with snowshoes

Sports Biomech. 2012 Mar;11(1):73-84. doi: 10.1080/14763141.2011.637129.


Snowshoeing is a popular form of winter recreation due to the development of lightweight snowshoes that provide flotation, traction, and stability. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of snowshoes on lower extremity kinematics during level walking. Twelve adults (6 males, 6 females, body mass = 67.5 +/- 10.7kg) completed six 3-minute level walking trials. Subjects walked overground without snowshoes and on packed snow using conventional and flexible tail snowshoes. We placed lightweight inertial/gyroscopic sensors on the sacrum, thigh, shank, and foot. We recorded sensor orientation and calculated hip, knee, and ankle joint angles and angular velocities. Compared to level overground walking, subjects had greater hip and knee flexion during stance and greater hip flexion during swing while snowshoeing. Ankle plantarflexion began during late swing when snowshoeing vs. heel strike during overground walking. Lower extremity kinematics were similar across snowshoe frame designs during level walking. Our results show that snowshoeing on packed snow results in a more flexed leg compared to overground walking and may reflect a strategy to limit the effects of walking with an extended heel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Shoes*
  • Snow Sports / physiology*
  • Snow*
  • Sports Equipment
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult