The influence of flooring on standing balance among older persons

Hum Factors. 1997 Sep;39(3):445-55. doi: 10.1518/001872097778827043.


This study investigated the effects of flooring on balance during quiet standing in healthy young and older participants. Seven flooring conditions were examined, including a hard tile floor and combinations of low-pile and high-pile carpet with urethane foam and rubber padding. The resulting floors provided a variety of compliant surfaces, ranging from very soft to hard. Participants stood during three separate visual conditions: eyes open, eyes closed, and looking at a moving visual surround. Three measures of postural sway were calculated using center of pressure recordings during the trails. The results showed that the amplitude of sway was higher in the older than in the younger participants, particularly in the moving visual surround condition. Flooring compliance was found to have an effect on sway during moving visual environments, with the largest effects found among the older participants. Softer floors increased the amount of sway in the older participants. These results suggest that floor compliance influences standing postural stability in older people, particularly in destabilizing visual environments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Floors and Floorcoverings*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Postural Balance*
  • Posture
  • Visual Perception