Flip-flops and sandals are popular choices of footwear due to their convenience. However, the effects of these types of footwear on lower extremity biomechanics are still poorly understood. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate differences in ground reaction force (GRF), center of pressure (COP) and lower extremity joint kinematic and kinetic variables during level-walking in flip-flops, sandals and barefoot compared to running shoes.
Ten healthy males performed five walking trials in the four footwear conditions at 1.3?m/s. Three-dimensional GRF and kinematic data were simultaneously collected.
A smaller loading rate of the 1st peak vertical GRF and peak propulsive GRF and greater peak dorsiflexion moment in early stance were found in shoes compared to barefoot, flip-flops and sandals. Barefoot walking yielded greater mediolateral COP displacement, flatter foot contact angle, increased ankle plantarflexion contact angle, and smaller knee flexion contact angle and range of motion compared to all other footwear.
The results from this study indicate that barefoot, flip-flops and sandals produced different peak GRF variables and ankle moment compared to shoes while all footwear yield different COP and ankle and knee kinematics compared to barefoot. The findings may be helpful to researchers and clinicians in understanding lower extremity mechanics of open-toe footwear.
Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 2013, 6:45 doi:10.1186/1757-1146-6-45