Background: The age-associated loss of physical function engenders gait patterns which jeopardise the knee and hip to osteoarthritis. Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) shoes have been shown to provide a facility to address specific needs for load modification in terms of musculoskeletal disease prevention in people with restricted proprioceptive or strength abilities. Therefore, a readjustment of lower extremity joint loading profiles in the elderly was hypothesised when using this type of footwear.
Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of MBT shoes on gait kinematics and kinetics in both an elderly and young cohort during walking.
Design: This was a cross-sectional study.
Setting: A 3-dimensional motion analysis laboratory.
Population: Eleven healthy elderly men and 11 healthy young men.
Methods: A conventional sport shoe served as control situation to MBT. Subjects were advised to walk eight trials per shoe at a criterion speed of 1.5 ± 0.1 m·s(-1) in block-randomised order. Peak joint angles, moments and powers at the ankle, knee and hip were calculated through an inverse dynamic model. Data were compared by a two-way repeated measure ANOVA (α=0.05).
Results: MBT reduced external ankle joint moments and powers independent of age. At the hip, MBT footwear led to decreases in external hip flexion moments and concentric hip power output during early and late stance. Herein, no age-by-condition effects were present. Moreover, MBT reduced external knee flexion moments and concentric knee extensor powers at loading response, with the greater changes observed in the elderly. Additionally, a main effect of condition showing a general decrease in the MBT situation, but no interaction effect was noted for first peak external knee adduction moments.
Conclusion: These results suggest that MBT shoes diminish joint loads among age groups, whereas compared to young adults, the elderly, in particular, benefited from MBT footwear with regard to relief stress on the knee joint region.
Clinical rehabilitation impact: Based on these findings, the use of MBT shoes may attenuate the risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis in the elderly and may play an important role regarding pain avoidance and/or disability.