April 2016

Shifting position of shoe heel rocker affects ankle mechanics during gait

In the moment: O&P

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Varying the placement of a shoe heel rocker affects walking gait kinematics, even when the toe rocker placement is kept constant, according to research presented in March at the annual AAOP meeting in Orlando, FL.

Investigators from Georgia State University in Atlanta analyzed 18 healthy young women as they walked at a self-selected speed under three footwear conditions. For all conditions, the toe rocker apex was positioned at 63% of foot length and angled at 25°. The heel rocker apex was positioned at the medial malleolus, 1 cm anterior to the medial malleolus, or 1 cm posterior.

Knee and hip kinematics did not differ significantly between shoe conditions. However, significant differences between shoe conditions were observed with regard to ankle range of motion.

Most notably, the most anterior heel rocker position was associated with less ankle plantar flexion at heel strike and more dorsiflexion at midstance than the other two conditions, according to Zahra Safaeepour, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate in the university’s Center for Pediatric Locomotion Sciences, who presented the findings.


Safaeepour Z. The effect of different placement of heel rockers on kinematics of lower-limb joints in healthy subjects. Presented at the 42nd annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists, Orlando, FL, March 2016.

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