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Medicine and health science fair project:
Comparing the effects of footwear on postural shifts and stride lengths

Project Information
Title: Comparing the effects of footwear on postural shifts and stride lengths
Subject: Medicine and Health
Subcategory: Sports Science / Skeletal System
Grade level: Middle School - Grades 7-9
Academic Level: Ordinary
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Medium
Awards: 1st Place (Summa Cum Laude), Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair ($400)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Year: 2013
Materials: Ballet flats, flip-flops, modification straps, snap fastener attachment tool, sewing machine, treadmill
Description: This project tested the effect of footwear on head, shoulder, ribcage, hip posture shifts and stride length. Four types of Footwear were used in the experiment. The volunteers walked on the treadmill for ten minutes, the number of steps were taken in the last two minutes to measure stride length (steps/minute). After the walk, the volunteer's picture was taken with “Posture Screen Mobile” app to measure body shifts (head, shoulder, rib cage, and hips). The results were recorded and compared.
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2013/meol13v
Short Background

Locomotor effects of shoes

Locomotor effects of shoes describes how physical characteristics or components of shoes influence the locomotion neuromechanics of a person. Depending on the characteristics of the shoes, the effects are various, ranging from alteration in balance and posture, muscle activity of different muscles as measured by electromyography (EMG), and the impact force. There are many different types of shoes that exist, such as running, walking, loafers, high heels, sandals, slippers, work boots, dress shoes, and many more. However, a typical shoe will be composed of an insole, midsole, outsole, and heels, if any. In an unshod condition, where one is without any shoes, the locomotor effects are primarily observed in the heel strike patterns and resulting impact forces generated on the ground.

During gait, high heeled shoes are shown to affect the ankle joint, causing significantly increased plantarflexion. This, in turn, increases the metabolic costs of walking and leads to faster muscle fatigue. Accelerated muscle fatigue may then increase the likelihood of ankle sprains and or falls due to impaired foot and ankle stability. Wearing high heels can also lead to shorter stride lengths, greater stance time, unstable posture and gait, and a decrease in lumbar flexion angles.

Walking in negative heeled shoes leads to a faster cadence and shorter stride length, resulting in a significantly shorter stride cycle time than when walking with a natural cadence. The range of the ankle motion is also significantly greater in the negative heeled shoes, remaining in dorsiflexion longer throughout the stance and swing phases of gait. The increased duration of dorsiflexion leads to lengthening of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle-tendon units and the length of the moment arm of the Achilles tendon.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locomotor_effects_of_shoes

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

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Last updated: June 2013
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