Footwear comfort: a systematic search and narrative synthesis of the literature
journal contributionposted on 08.02.2022, 23:49 by Hylton MenzHylton Menz, Daniel BonannoDaniel Bonanno
Objective: To provide a narrative synthesis of the research literature pertaining to footwear comfort, including definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors. Methods: A systematic search was conducted which yielded 101 manuscripts. The most relevant manuscripts were selected based on the predetermined subheadings of the review (definitions, measurement scales, footwear design features, and physiological and psychological factors). A narrative synthesis of the findings of the included studies was undertaken. Results: The available evidence is highly fragmented and incorporates a wide range of study designs, participants, and assessment approaches, making it challenging to draw strong conclusions or implications for clinical practice. However, it can be broadly concluded that (i) simple visual analog scales may provide a reliable overall assessment of comfort, (ii) well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable, and (iii) the influence of sole flexibility, shoe microclimate and insoles is less clear and likely to be more specific to the population, setting and task being performed. Conclusion: Footwear comfort is a complex and multifaceted concept that is influenced not only by structural and functional aspects of shoe design, but also task requirements and anatomical and physiological differences between individuals. Further research is required to delineate the contribution of specific shoe features more clearly, and to better understand the interaction between footwear features and individual physiological attributes.