Effects of Shoe Top Visual Patterns on Shoe Wearers’ Width Perception and Dynamic Stability

James C.L. Law (Corresponding Author), Thomson W.L. Wong, Debbie C.L. Chan, Wing Kai Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Visual illusions caused by varied orientations of visual patterns may influence the perception of space and size, possibly affecting body stability during locomotion. This study examined the effect of variations in shoe top visual patterns on perception and biomechanical stability while walking and running. Twenty healthy adults performed five walking and running trials along an instrumented walkway when wearing shoes with five different striped patterns (plain, vertical, outward, horizontal, and inward). Before these locomotion trials, participants ranked their perceptions of shoe width. We used synchronized force platform and motion capturing systems to measure ground reaction force, mediolateral center of position displacement, ankle inversion and eversion, ankle excursion, and maximum eversion velocity. We rated stability perception on a 150-mm visual analog scale immediately after each shoe condition. Data analyses indicated that participants perceived plain and horizontal striped shoes as significantly wider than inward and vertical patterned shoes. During walking, participants wearing shoes with plain and horizontal striped patterns demonstrated smaller mediolateral center of position displacement, maximum eversion velocity, and ankle range of motion when compared with walking when wearing outward and vertical striped patterns; when running, we observed a similar effect for maximum eversion velocity. Thus, certain visual patterns on the tops of shoes influence the wearers’ width perception and locomotion in ways that affect ankle stability during walking and running, with implications for risk of injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-695
Number of pages14
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • balance
  • footwear
  • gait
  • illusion
  • safe-stepping strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems


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