Background: The wearing of socks and insoles may affect the ability of the foot to detect tactile input influencing postural balance. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether (1) thick socks adversely affected the elderly postural balance and (2) orthopedic insoles could improve the elderly postural balance while wearing thick socks. Study design: Repeated-measures study design. Methods: In total, 14 healthy older adults were recruited. A monofilament test was conducted to evaluate foot plantar sensation with and without thick socks. Subjects then performed the Romberg tests under three conditions: (1) barefoot, (2) with socks only, and (3) with both socks and insoles. Postural balance was assessed by measuring the center of pressure movement during standing in each experimental condition. Results: Thick socks significantly decreased the monofilament score (p < 0.001), suggesting reduction in ability to detect external forces. All center of pressure parameters increased significantly while wearing thick socks (p < 0.017), implying reduction of postural stability. They then decreased significantly with the additional use of insoles (p < 0.017). Conclusion: Previous studies have documented the changes in plantar pressure distribution with the use of orthopedic insoles. This study further suggests that such changes in contact mechanics could produce some balance-improving effects, which appears not to have been reported earlier. Clinical relevance: Wearing thick socks reduces plantar pressure sensitivity and increases postural sway which may increase risk of falls. Orthopedic insoles and footwear with similar design could potentially be a cost-effective method in maintaining postural balance when wearing thick socks.
- center of pressure
- orthopedic insoles
- postural stability
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Professions (miscellaneous)