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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Altering gait by way of stimulation of the plantar surface of the foot: the immediate effect of wearing textured insoles in older fallers

  • 1Email author,
  • 2,
  • 3,
  • 4 and
  • 2
Journal of Foot and Ankle Research20125 (Suppl 1) :O21

  • Published:


  • Texture Surface
  • Step Length
  • Plantar Surface
  • Stride Length
  • Tactile Stimulation


Textured surfaces and shoe insoles can alter standing balance in healthy older adults [1, 2] by way of enhanced plantar tactile stimulation. However, it remains unknown whether textured insoles have a similar effect on dynamic balance performance during walking in older people prone to falling. This study explored the immediate effect of textured insoles on gait measurements in older fallers.

Materials and methods

26 older adults (19 women; mean [1SD] age 79.0 [7.1] years) with a self-reported history of ≥ 2 falls in the previous year, conducted tests of level-ground walking over 10m (GaitRITE system), under two conditions: wearing (in their usual footwear) textured insoles and smooth (control) insoles. Gait measurements included velocity, cadence, step length, stride length, base of support, step time, cycle time, swing time, stance time, and single- and double-limb support times.


Paired-samples t-tests showed significant reductions in gait velocity (P=0.016) and stride length (left P=0.028, right P=0.043) when wearing textured insoles. Mean (95% CI) differences were: gait velocity -4.20 (-7.55 to -0.85) cm.s-1, left stride length -2.92 (-5.49 to -0.34) cm, right stride length -2.87 (-5.64 to -0.09) cm. No significant differences were found for the other gait measures.


Stimulating the plantar surface of the foot by way of wearing this type of textured insole causes an immediate effect - in this case a slower, more cautious gait in older fallers. Further work is required to determine how textured insoles can be used to improve gait in older fallers.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Physiotherapy, The Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, 4102, Australia
Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, Teesside, TS1 3BA, UK
Health & Rehabilitation Research Institute, AUT University, Auckland, 1020, New Zealand
Institute for Ageing and Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK


  1. Palluel E, Nougier V, Olivier I: Do spike insoles enhance postural stability and plantar-surface cutaneous sensitivity in the elderly?. Age. 2008, 30: 53-61. 10.1007/s11357-008-9047-2.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Hatton A, Dixon J, Martin D, Rome K: Standing on textured surfaces: effects on standing balance in healthy older adults. Age Ageing. 2011, 40: 363-368. 10.1093/ageing/afr026.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Hatton et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.