The effects of textured insoles on quiet standing balance in four stance types with and without vision

Ryan Kenny, Daniel Eaves, Denis Martin, Anna L. Hatton, John Dixon

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Background: Wearing a textured shoe insole can decrease postural sway during static balance. Previous studies assessed bipedal and/or unipedal standing. In contrast, we aimed to investigate if textured insoles modulated postural sway during four stance types (bipedal, standard Romberg, tandem Romberg, and unipedal), with and without vision. Methods: The repeated measures design involved 28 healthy young adults (13 females; mean age=26.86±6.6yrs) performing quiet standing in the four stance types on a force platform, under two different insole conditions (textured insole; TI vs. smooth insole; SI), with eyes open and eyes closed. Postural sway was assessed via the range and standard deviation of the COP excursions in the anterior-posterior and medial-lateral sway, and overall mean velocity. Results: The main effect of insole type was statistically significant at the alpha p=0.05 level (p=0.045). Compared to smooth insoles, textured insoles reduced the standard deviation of anterior-posterior excursions (APSD). While simple main effect analyses revealed this was most pronounced during eyes closed bipedal standing, insole type did not provide a statistically significant interaction with either stance or vision in this measure, or any other. Postural sway showed statistically significant increases across both stance type (bipedal < standard Romberg < tandem Romberg < unipedal), and vision (eyes closed < eyes open), in almost all measures. Stance and vision did have a statistically significant interaction in each measure, reflecting greater postural disturbances with eyes closed when stance stability decreased. Conclusions: Overall, these results support textured insole use in healthy young adults to reduce postural sway measures. This is because APSD is an index of spatial variability, where a decrease is associated with improved balance and possibly translates to reduced falls risk. Placing a novel texture in the shoe presumably modulated somatosensory inputs. It is important to understand the underlying mechanisms by which textured insoles influence postural sway. As such, utilising a healthy adult group allows us to investigate possible mechanisms of textured insoles. Future research could investigate the potential underlying mechanisms of textured insole effects at a neuromuscular and cortical level, in healthy young adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2019


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