The Effects of Barefoot Training on Balance and Postural Control in Adults aged 65-85
Dr. Maureen Dunn; Professor Stein Slette
Proprioception (the body's conscious and unconscious awareness of a joint's position in space) represents an essential component of postural control, providing orientation information about movement and position of the joints and muscles. Research shows that as age increases, proprioception in the form of foot position awareness declines and is further aggravated by footwear use. Examples of this deterioration in proprioceptive feedback are best observed in the elderly, of whom, approximately 30% fall at least once a year and ~15% fall more than once a year. Although, a number of factors have been recognized as risk factors for falling, the effect of footwear on postural stability is often overlooked. Due to the potentially adverse effects of a traditional wedge-style running shoe on proprioceptive feedback of the somatosensory system, an investigation into the effects of barefoot balance training on postural control in the elderly is warranted. Subjects were separated into three groups a control group that received no training, a shod (SH) group that was required to perform exercises wearing exercise footwear, and a barefoot (BF) group that performed exercises barefoot. Subjects in the SH and BF groups received 13 weeks of twice-weekly training of balance and stability, vestibular awareness, and functional strength. Pre- and post-test measurements were taken to assess balance using the AMTI AccuSway Balance Platform and the Berg Balance Scale.
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