• Enrique Alcántara
  • Gabriel Brizuela
  • Elena Ferrús
  • Juan C. Gonzalez
  • Ana C. García
Keywords: motor skills, obstacle trial, children’s footwear, children’s performance, biomechanics, locomotor ability


Footwear does not influence children’s locomotor ability in just a single way. It is the result of a complex interaction of design, mechanical properties, fitting, etc. As a result, subjective techniques are better suited for its study. Some investigators have used these techniques to study motor skills in children (Pryde et al., 1997), but few works have focused on the assessment of children’s footwear (Gould, 1985). This work presents a new technique for the analysis of footwear influences on children’s locomotor ability. An obstacle walking circuit was designed in which 13 fixed-goal tasks (FGTT) were included. Each task was designed for compromising either a single or complex movement or motor skill of children. Obstacles of increasing complexity were placed along the circuit on a restricted path with visual clues. Seven children (mean age = 8.4) participated in an experiment with three different pairs of hiking boots. The time required to complete the circuit was recorded for each trial. A three point scale was used to visually quantify the performance in each task: (0) absence of error, (1) slight error and (2) grave error. The total number of errors was also computed. Descriptive statistics of errors were gathered. The influence of shoes on global time and errors was analyzed. Factor analysis of Principal Components was used to identify the association among the most frequent errors. The relationship of error groups with time and boots, as well as the accommodation of children to walking conditions were also analyzed. A high frequency of errors in many of the tasks was observed. However, little differences in time and errors were observed with the same shoes, so the circuit really demonstrated to compromise children’s ability. Quick accommodation of the children was observed. The first trial was the slowest, and the frequency of errors in the tasks decreased from 13.0 % to 3.8% when performed four more times. Factor Analysis resulted in five error groups which were related to 1) bad perception of whole shoe size and 2) of shoe point, 3) the influence in medial-lateral movements, 4) a complex movement of the lower leg and the foot followed by precise positioning and 5) stepping over the first high obstacle in the circuit. No significant relationship of error groups with time and type of boot was found.This technique yielded interesting relationships of performance in fixed-goal tasks with aspects of footwear influence on children’s motor skills which would allow the assessment of children’s footwear design. The small differences among boots found in this experiment could be due to the fact that the tested boots were very similar. REFERENCES: Gould, N. (1985). Shoes Versus Sneakers in Toddler Ambulation. Foot Ankle 6, 105-107. Pryde, K. M.; Roy, E. A.; Patla, A. E. (1997). Age-related trends in locomotor ability and obstacle avoidance. Human Movement Science, 16, 507-516.