Walking barefoot or in socks is common for ambulating indoors and has been reported to be associated with increased risk of falls and related injuries in the elderly. This study sought to determine if gait patterns differed between these two conditions for young and older adults. A motion analysis system was used to record and calculate the stride characteristics and motion of the body's center of mass (COM) of 21 young and 20 older adults. For the walking tasks, the participants walked on a smooth floor surface at their preferred speed either barefoot or in socks in a random order. The socks were commercially available and commonly used. The results demonstrated that while walking in socks, compared with walking barefoot, older adults adopted a more cautious gait pattern including decreased walking speed and shortened stride length as well as reduced COM minimal velocity during the single limb support phase. Young adults, however, did not demonstrate significant changes. These findings suggest that walking with socks might present a greater balance threat for older adults. Clinically, safety precautions about walking in socks should be considered to be given to older adults, especially those with balance deficits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine