June 2012

Balance control in occupational boots reflects shaft height more than mass

In the moment: Footwear

By Jordana Bieze Foster

In workers wearing occupational footwear, the mass of a boot may be less important for maintaining balance than its shaft height, according to a study presented in late May at the annual ACSM meeting.

Researchers from the University of Mississippi in University, MS, assessed sway velocities during eyes-open standing balance in 14 adult male volunteers under three footwear conditions: work boots, tactical boots, and low-top boots.

The low-top boots were associated with significantly high­er levels of anteroposterior root-mean-square (RMS) sway than the other two footwear types, despite having a higher mass (0.89 kg vs 0.53 kg for tactical boots and 0.39 kg for work boots). Mediolateral RMS sway did not differ between boots, and no balance measures changed during four hours of walking, suggesting no effect of fatigue.

Because the tactical boots and work boots both feature shafts that extend well past the ankle, the authors theorized that the ankle support provided by the boot shaft may have more influence on balance than footwear mass.

Source: Garner JC, Chander H, Dabbs NC, et al. The influence of occupational footwear on balance. Presented at 59th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, San Francisco, May 2012.

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