Soft soled footwear has limited impact on toddler gait
journal contributionposted on 03.06.2021, 23:09 by Cylie Williams, J Kolic, W Wu, K Paterson
The development of walking in young toddlers is an important motor milestone. Walking patterns can differ widely amongst toddlers, and are characterised by unique biomechanical strategies. This makes comparisons between newly walking toddler’s and older children’s walking difficult. Little is currently understood regarding the effects of footwear on the gait in newly walking toddlers. A quasi-experimental pre-post study design was used to assess whether spatiotemporal parameters of gait, and in-shoe foot and lower limb kinematics, differed when walking barefoot and in soft-soled footwear in newly walking toddlers. There were 18 toddlers recruited, with 14 undergoing testing. The GAITRite system collected spatial and temporal data. The Vicon camera system collected kinematic data. The testing conditions included barefoot and footwear. Footwear tested was a commercially available soft soled shoe (Bobux XPLORER). Data was extracted directly from the GAITRite system and analysed. Walking in footwear did not change spatial or temporal data, however there were small but significant decreases in hip adduction/abduction range of motion (mean difference (MD) = 1.79, 95% CI = -3.51 to -0.07, p = 0.04), knee flexion (MD = -7.63, 95% CI = 2.70 to 12.55, p = 0.01), and knee flexion/extension range of movement (MD = 6.25, 95% CI = -10.49 to -2.01, p = 0.01), and an increase in subtalar joint eversion (MD = 2.85, 95% CI = 5.29 to -0.41, p = 0.03). Effect sizes were small for hip and ankle range, peak knee extension, and subtalar joint ranges (d<0.49), medium for knee flexion/extension range (d = 0.75) and large for peak knee flexion (d = 0.87). The magnitude of kinematic changes with soft-soled footwear were small thus the clinical importance of these findings is uncertain. Future longitudinal studies are needed to develop recommendations regarding footwear for newly walking toddlers.