The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers

  • D’Aout, Kristiaan, T.C. Pataky, D. De Clercq, P. Aerts. “The effects of habitual footwear use: foot shape and function in native barefoot walkers.” Footwear Science 1.2 (2009): 81-94. Ebsco Host. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
  • I used the Academic Search Complete tool under databases on the VCU library page to find my source using the words barefoot, effect, and people. The terms led me to find the article from the Ebsco Host database, and then I had to Google the title, as I could not get it from the VCU library database and could not understand how to use the Ebsco Host page. I decided to use this source as it would clearly help me understand the effects of shod and unshod lifestyles on the human feet.
  • This source is scholarly as it contains an abstract, is plain with nothing flashy, includes a large list of citations, very formal language with extensive testing, and the authors had backgrounds from areas such as the Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology of the University of Liverpool, UK.
  • The purpose of the study is to determine if there is any biomechanically different effects on the human foot when comparing those who, in their whole lives, were barefoot and those who wore shoes because there have been no real research regarding the difference between the two groups, and the results would provide promising insight to the effects of modern shoes. The study was conducted with 255 people from three populations of different ethnic groups and footwear usage: barefoot Indians from South-Indian city of Bangalore, habitually shod Indians from Bangalore that serves as the intermediate between completely barefoot and cushioned shoes, and the cushioned shod Caucasian Westerners from Belgium. Standard protocol such as weight, height, age were taken to ensure validity and accuracy. The experiment was conducted with video cameras to provide direct comparisons of walking mechanics and pressure plates to measure the plantar pressure of the feet. The results found that there were significant differences between the habitual barefoot users and the shod users. Barefoot users on average had significantly larger forefeet than their shod peers, and barefoot users also had a much more even distribution of peak plantar pressures.  The shod users had more narrow feet, and higher peak plantar pressures at the heel, metatarsals, and hallux. The closer to barefoot, the more of the midfoot region contacted the pressure plate, distributing the weight more evenly. There were a few drawbacks and limitations that held the study from being very comprehensive. The population used for heavy shoe use were Westerners, therefore not keeping a constant variable in terms of ethical backgrounds that could play a role in foot biomechanics. Also, given their location, their methods of testing were limited to simple equipment due to the rural conditions they were working with, including PAL video recorders and plantar pressure plates. Overall, however, the study provided insight as to how biomechanically different habitual shod users and unshod users were in regards to their feet.

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