Footwear interventions: A review of their sensorimotor and mechanical effects on balance performance and gait in older adults

Anna L. Hatton, Keith Rome, John Dixon, Denis J. Martin, Patrick O. McKeon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Footwear interventions, including shoe insoles and foot orthoses, have the capacity to enhance balance control and gait in older people. This review assessed the evidence for the effect of footwear interventions on static and dynamic balance performance and gait in older populations and explored proposed theories for underlying sensorimotor and mechanical mechanisms. We searched the Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL (the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), and AMED databases and conducted hand searches. Of 115 relevant articles screened, 14 met the predefined inclusion criteria. Articles were grouped into one of three categories based on balance task (static balance performance during quiet standing, dynamic balance performance during walking, and dynamic balance performance during perturbed standing or functional tasks) and were scored for methodological quality using the Downs and Black Quality Index tool. Footwear interventions seem to alter underlying strategies controlling static and dynamic movement patterns through a combination of sensorimotor and mechanical mechanisms in older people, including those with chronic sensory and musculoskeletal conditions. Evidence shows a consistent trend toward footwear interventions markedly improving lateral stability measures, which are predictors of falls in the elderly. In-depth investigation of neurophysiologic responses to footwear interventions is necessary to help confirm any sensorimotor adaptations. The long-term effects of footwear interventions on balance, gait, and the prevention of falls in older people require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-533
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Podiatric Medical Association
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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