Ground Reaction Forces in Alternative Footwear during Slip Events

Harish Chander, John C. Garner, Chip Wade


Slips, trips and falls are major causitive factors for occupational and non-occupational falls. Alternative footwear such has crocs and flip flops have been used in and around work places and communities that can be slip prone environments. The purpose of the study is to analyze the effects of alternative footwear [crocs (CC), flip-flops (FF)] and industry standard slip resistant shoes (LT) on ground reaction forces (GRFs) during slip events. Eighteen healthy male participants following a repeated measures design for each footwear condition, were tested for heel kinematics during normal dry surface gait (NG); unexpected slip (US), alert slip (AS) and expected slip (ES). A 3x4 repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyze the dependent vertical GRFs parameters (Mean Z-GRF and Peak Z-GRF) at p = 0.05. Significant interactions between footwear and gait trials were found for Mean Z-GRF and significant main effect in gait trials for Peak Z-GRF were evident. On average significantly lower GRFs were seen in slip trials compared to normal gait. FF exhibited significantly lower GRFs during slip trials while LT demonstrated lower GRFs in normal gait. The reduced ground reaction forces during all slip events compared to normal gait can be attributed to the incomplete weight transfer on the slipping foot during the unexpected and alert slips and to the anticipation of the slippery environment in expected slips. Flip flops which had greater incidence of slips also demonstrated reduced GRFs compared to CC and LT during slip events, further suggesting incomplete weight transfer, while during normal gait, LT demonstrated reduced GRFs compared to alternative footwear owing to its cushioning midsole properties. The LT with lowest incidence of slips demonstrates to be the choice of footwear for maneuvering slippery flooring conditions and for reducing impact reaction forces during non-slippery flooring conditions.

Keywords: Slips, Falls, Alternative Footwear, Ground Reaction Forces, Perception of Slipperiness

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