It is common sense that walking on sand poses challenges to postural control. However, there are no studies quantifying the kinematics of sand walking compared to other types of postural perturbations such as unstable shoes. The aim of the study was to investigate differences in walking kinematics during walking on solid ground, in unstable shoes and on unstable surfaces. Nineteen healthy young adults (23.5 ± 1.5 years) performed three different walking tasks: 1) walking at preferred speed while wearing regular shoes; 2) Walking at preferred speed wearing Masai Barefoot Technology shoes and 3) barefoot walking at preferred speed on a large sand grave. Full-body kinematics were recorded during all conditions using an inertial motion capture system. Basic gait parameters (walking speed, stride length and duration), relative vertical center-of-mass position (rvCOM), and ankle, knee and hip joint angles in the sagittal plane were compared across the tasks through statistical parametric mapping over the course of full walking cycles. Participants presented similar walking speed, as well as stride length and duration across different conditions (p > 0.05). However, walking on sand reduced the rvCOM (p < 0.05), while also requiring greater ankle plantarflexion during stance phase (p < 0.05), as well as greater knee and hip flexion during leg swing and initial contact when compared to the other conditions (p < 0.05). It was concluded that walking on sand substantially changes walking kinematics, and may cause greater postural instability than unstable shoes. Therefore, walking on sand can be an alternative to improve postural control in patients undergoing walking rehabilitation.
- MBT shoes
- Postural control