Minimal shoes improve stability and mobility in persons with a history of falls

Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 10;10(1):21755. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-78862-6.


Postural and walking instabilities contribute to falls in older adults. Given that shoes affect human locomotor stability and that visual, cognitive and somatosensory systems deteriorate during aging, we aimed to: (1) compare the effects of footwear type on stability and mobility in persons with a history of falls, and (2) determine whether the effect of footwear type on stability is altered by the absence of visual input or by an additional cognitive load. Thirty participants performed standing and walking trials in three footwear conditions, i.e. conventional shoes, minimal shoes, and barefoot. The outcomes were: (1) postural stability (movement of the center of pressure during eyes open/closed), (2) walking stability (Margin of Stability during normal/dual-task walking), (3) mobility (the Timed Up and Go test and the Star Excursion Balance test), and (4) perceptions of the shoes (Monitor Orthopaedic Shoes questionnaire). Participants were more stable during standing and walking in minimal shoes than in conventional shoes, independent of visual or walking condition. Minimal shoes were more beneficial for mobility than conventional shoes and barefoot. This study supports the need for longitudinal studies investigating whether minimal footwear is more beneficial for fall prevention in older people than conventional footwear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cognition
  • Equipment Design*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Sensation
  • Shoes* / adverse effects
  • Visual Acuity
  • Walking / physiology