Shoes Make us Fall Down...Go Barefoot!

Reference:Robbins S, Waked E, McClaran J. Proprioception and stability: foot position awareness as a function of age and footwear. Age Ageing. 1995 Jan;24(1):67-72.

It is great when the results of a study correlate with common sense. This study looked at the influence of age and shoes on foot proprioception.

Conclusion #1: Foot proprioception lessens with age, due to loss of plantar tactile sensitivity.

Conclusion #2: Shoes impair foot proprioception in both young and old, again due to loss of plantar tactile sensitivity

Clinical Relevance: To reduce falls it may be wise to wear thin-soled shoes. I appreciate that it is generally nice to give seniors thick-soled shoes with plenty of ‘cushiony’ stuff in it. However, the more shoes are padded, the greater the loss of proprioception and the greater risk of falls.

Personal Comment: For thousands of years we have walked barefeet, and at best we have worn relatively thin animal leather skin ‘shoes’ on our feet. Suddenly shoe companies come along and sell us shoes with huge heels with soles filled with air, rubber, foam, etc.

Ideally, to maintain our proprioception, we all should walk barefeet on grass and sand as much as possible, especially as we get older.

Have you walked barefoot today?

Posted on: July 03, 2010

Categories: Foot & Ankle , Relevant Physical Therapy Articles

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