June 2015

Balance data suggest somatosensory benefit of minimalist footwear design

By P.K. Daniel

Minimalist shoes are associated with better balance performance than clog-style molded plastic shoes or flip-flops, according to a study from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

In 18 men (average age 22.9 ± 2.9 years) with no history of neuromuscular disorders, researchers assessed sway velocity and root mean square of the center of pressure during static balance follow­ing a one-mile walk at a self-selected pace under the three footwear conditions.

Balance performance with eyes closed was significantly better for the minimalist shoe condition than for the other two, which the authors suggested may be because that shoe’s design facilitates somatosensory feedback that helps to compensate for the loss of visual information. The findings were presented in May at the ACSM meeting.

“We were hoping for one specific footwear characteristic to come out in the results, but that didn’t happen,” said lead study author Samuel J. Wilson, MS, a doctoral student in the Applied Biomechanics Laboratory at the university, who presented the findings. “It looks like it’s some combination.”


Wilson SJ, Chander H, Morris CE, et al. Alternative footwear’s influence on static balance following a one-mile walk. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2015;46(5 Suppl);S562.

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