Skip to main content

The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of different midsole hardnesses on dynamic balance control during unexpected gait termination.

Twelve healthy young female adults were asked to walk along an eight-metre walkway, looking straight ahead. During 25% of the trials, they were signalled (via an audio buzzer) to terminate gait within the next two steps. The four experimental conditions were:

  • soft (A15)
  • standard (A33)
  • hard (A50)
  • barefoot

Center of mass (COM) position relative to the lateral base of support (BOS), center of mass – center of pressure (COM-COP) difference and vertical loading rate were used to evaluate the influence of midsole material on dynamic balance control. The results were a decrease in the medial-lateral range of COM with respect to the lateral BOS, a reduction in the maximum COM-COP difference and an increase in the vertical loading rate due to the presence and hardness level of the midsole material when compared to the barefoot condition.

The primary outcomes of this study have illustrated the influence of midsole hardness as an impediment to dynamic balance control during responses to gait termination. In conclusion, the present study suggests that variations in midsole material, and even the presence of it, impairs the dynamic balance control system.

Funded by a Wilfrid Laurier University Undergraduate Research Assistantship.