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Volume 41 Number 4, July/August 2004
Pages 547 — 554

Effects of shoe heel height on biologic rollover characteristics during walking

Andrew H. Hansen, PhD; Dudley S. Childress, PhD

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Program, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; Prosthetics Research Laboratory, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, IL; Department of Biomedical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Abstract — This study investigated the effects of shoe heel height on the rollover characteristics of the biologic ankle-foot system. Ten nondisabled adult female volunteers walked using three pairs of shoes with varying heel heights and at three walking speeds with each pair of shoes. Kinematic and kinetic data needed to calculate the rollover shapes of the ankle-foot systems of the participants were collected. Rollover shapes are the effective rocker geometries that ankle-foot systems conform to between heel contact and opposite heel contact. Parameters of the best-fit circular arcs to the rollover shapes were used in an examination of the effects of shoe heel height on the ankle-foot system. The results support the notion that nondisabled humans automatically adapt their ankle-foot systems to accommodate a range of shoe heel heights, resulting in rollover shapes that do not change appreciably. Given physiologic constraints, this adaptation may not be possible for very high heels.

Key words: ankle, foot, gait, human movement, shoes.

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