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Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
SJR: 0.117 SNIP: 0.228 CiteScore™: 0.17

ISSN Print: 0896-2960
ISSN Online: 2162-6553

Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevPhysRehabilMed.v9.i1.30
pages 53-74

Foot Position Awareness: The Effect of Footwear on Instability, Excessive Impact, and Ankle Spraining

Steven Robbins
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada;McGill University, Centre for Studies in Aging, Montreal, Canada; divisions of Geriatric Medicine and Experimental Medicine, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, Canada
Edward Waked
divisions of Geriatric Medicine and Experimental Medicine, Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, Canada

ABSTRACT

This paper reviews an emerging area of considerable health significance - adequate foot position awareness (sense of position and orientation of plantar surface with respect to leg) is required for stable equilibrium, ankle support when bearing weight so as to prevent ankle sprains, and maintenance of impact during locomotion and jumping at safe levels. Precise foot position awareness and impact control require information emanating from plantar SA II mechanoreceptors. Modern athletic footwear of the current fashion that incorporate yielding - resilient materials in the soles, attenuate adequate stimuli of these receptors, necessitating reliance on less precise sensory sources for foot position judgements. This results in poor foot position awareness, and consequently poor stability, frequent ankle sprains and excessive impact. Ankle taping partly compensates for the deficiency in athletic footwear by restoring tactile cues necessary for more precise foot position sense, without interfering as much as do orthoses and rigid and semi-rigid devices with normal movement patterns. This in itself may be injurious and diminish athletic performance. Taping is a satisfactory interim solution to conditions associated with poor foot position awareness caused by athletic footwear. A better solution is footwear that allow adequate stimuli for SA II mechanoreceptors, therefore adequate foot position awareness. There is a need for establishing safety standards for footwear that account for their effect on foot position sense.