Children's Gait

Spatiotemporal gait parameters are affected by footwear stiffness in toddler-aged children.

Footwear plays a significant role in, and can influence children’s gait. Footwear type is especially important as a child grows and develops from a novice to an expert walker. Compared to barefoot walking, children generally have increased spatiotemporal (ST) gait parameters while walking with footwear. Gait variability has also shown to be affected by footwear. The degree of stiffness in footwear could have a large influence on children’s gait and variability. This study investigated effects of footwear stiffness on ST gait parameters and gait variability in novice walkers. Children with an average age of 33.3 ( 7.0) months participated in a single data collection. Heel and toe marker positions were acquired for one minute of walking per condition. Participants walked on the treadmill in three levels of footwear stiffness (rigid: hard-soled stiff shoe, semi-rigid: EVA sole athletic shoe, compliant: moccasin soft-sole shoe) and barefoot. ST gait parameters and gait variability were calculated for each condition using marker. and treadmill forces. ST parameters all increased in the rigid and semi-rigid footwear conditions compared to soft-sole and barefoot. Interestingly, there were no differences between barefoot and wearing a moccasin for any of the ST variables. There were no differences in SD and COV between any of the footwear conditions. The moccasin shoe promotes walking most similar to normal barefoot walking. Standard measures of variability failed to detect differences between footwear conditions. Further investigation into different measurements is necessary to parse out what effect footwear has on children’s gait variability.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Gait