Footwear traction and three-dimensional kinematics of level, downhill, uphill and cross-slope walking

Gait Posture. 2014;40(1):118-22. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.03.004. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


Outdoor activities are a popular form of recreation, with hiking being the most popular outdoor activity as well as being the most prevalent in terms of injury. Over the duration of a hike, trekkers will encounter many different sloped terrains. Not much is known about the required traction or foot-floor kinematics during locomotion on these sloped surfaces, therefore, the purpose was to determine the three-dimensional foot-floor kinematics and required traction during level, downhill, uphill and cross-slope walking. Ten participants performed level, uphill, downhill and cross-slope walking along a 19° inclined walkway. Ground reaction force data as well as 3D positions of retro reflective markers attached to the shoe were recorded using a Motion Analysis System. Peak traction coefficients and foot-floor kinematics during sloped walking were compared to level walking. When walking along different sloped surfaces, the required traction coefficients at touchdown were not different from level walking, therefore, the increased likelihood of heel slipping during hiking is potentially due to the presence of loose material (rocks, dirt) on hiking slopes, rather than the overall lack of traction. Differences in required traction were seen at takeoff, with uphill and cross-sloped walking requiring a greater amount of traction compared to level walking. Changes in sagittal plane, frontal plane and transverse plane foot-floor angles were seen while walking on the sloped surfaces. Rapid foot-floor eversion was observed during cross-slope walking which could place the hiker at risk of injury with a misstep or if there was a slight slip.

Keywords: Hiking; Slip; Sloped walking; Traction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Floors and Floorcoverings
  • Foot
  • Heel
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Shoes*
  • Traction*
  • Walking / physiology*