April 2016

Kinematics at foot, not shank, respond to increases in heel-sole differential

In the moment: O&P

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Elevating the heel of a shoe significantly affects foot kinematics but not shank kinematics during gait, according to research from the UK presented in March at the annual AAOP meeting in Orlando, FL.

Investigators from the Child Development Center in Bangor, North Wales, retrospectively analyzed gait data for 10 women from a 2004 study conducted at Northwestern University in Chicago, which found that shoe heel height did not significantly affect rollover shapes during walking. The study participants walked while wearing shoes with a flat heel, a 37-mm heel, and a 71-mm heel.

The current analysis found that shank-to-vertical angle during the first half of the gait cycle did not differ significantly with shoe heel height, but that foot-to-horizontal angle increased with increasing heel-sole differential, or pitch.

“Shank kinematics do not change with the pitch of the footwear, but actual foot kinematics do change,” said Elaine Owen, MSc, MSCP, a pediatric physiotherapist at the center, who presented the findings at the AAOP meeting.


Owen E. The effect of walking in footwear with varying heel sole differentials on shank and foot segment kinematics. Presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, Orlando, FL, March 2016.

Hansen AH, Childress DS. Effects of shoe heel height on biologic rollover characteristics during walking. J Rehabil Res Dev 2004;41(4):547-554.

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