Spatial and temporal gait characteristics of elderly individuals during backward and forward walking with shoes and barefoot

Michal Elboim-Gabyzon, Shira Rotchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Backward walking (BW) is an inherent component of mobility and function in daily activities, particularly indoors, when it is more likely that a person is barefoot. No studies to date have compared the spatio-temporal characteristics of BW with and without shoes in elderly individuals. This study compared spatio-temporal measures of BW and forward walking (FW) among elderly individuals while barefoot or wearing shoes. Forty-seven elderly individuals (13 men and 34 women, 76.7 ± 7.7 years of age) were evaluated. Participants were requested to walk at a comfortable, self-selected pace across the GAITRite® walkway for three trials under each of four conditions: walking forward (FW) and BW wearing their own comfortable low-heeled walking shoes and FW and BW walking without shoes. Gait speed, stride length and cadence were significantly reduced in BW versus FW, with an increase in double limb support (DLS), both with and without shoes. Barefoot BW resulted in significantly increased gait speed and cadence, and decreased DLS compared to BW with shoes. BW stride length was not affected by footwear. While barefoot FW was also associated with a significant increase in cadence and decrease in DLS time compared to walking with shoes, it decreased stride length and had no detrimental effect on gait speed. Assessment of the spatio-temporal parameters of walking barefoot and with shoes during FW and BW can contribute to our understanding of the ability of elderly individuals to adapt to changing walking conditions, and should be included in the assessment of functional mobility of elderly individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-366
Number of pages4
JournalGait and Posture
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Backward walking
  • Barefoot
  • Elderly
  • Footwear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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