INFLUENCE OF AGING ON THE DYNAMICS OF LATERAL STABILIZATION IN WALKING, IN DIFFERENT EXPERIHENTAL CONDITIONS RELATED TO SHOE WEARING AND FLOOR HARDNESS

  • R.G. Therrien
  • M. Ladouceur
  • F. Prince
  • S. Saib
  • F. Therrien

Abstract

Review of biomechanics literature on the influence of aging on the locomotor system indicates that safe load bearing as well as deformation sustaining capabilities of biological tissues decrease with age. Postural studies of older populations have di8closed more body sway than in younger age groups and have often associated loss of balance with locomotion problems of old age people. On the other hand, biomechanical studies of walking and running have already demonstrated t h a t wearing shoes and shoe characteristics can play an important r o l e in shock absorption. However the influence of aging on the dynamic of lateral stabilization in walking in relationship with shoe wearing and floor hardness has received very little attention. Such a biomechanical approach t o locomotion is becoming more important since more and more older people are involved in sport and fitness activities including some form of locomotion. The present study has been undertaken in order to investigate the influence of aging together with shoe wearing and floor hardness on some of the main components, of lateral stabilization in walking, namely the lateral forces, the lateral impulse and the lateral deviation o f the center of pressure. Three groups of 15 physically active male subjects (17-22, 40-45 and 65-70 years old) were instructed to walk on a tri-dimensional force platform a t a predetermined pace set with a metronome;. Experimental conditions included walking barefoot and with regular shoes, on a hard and a softer surfaces. Kinetic data were recorded on the 5th, 25th, 50th, 100th and 500th steps for each condition, with the use of the computerized . Ariel Performance Analysis System. Analysis of the results disclosed important differences between the age groups in all three experimental parameters. Lower lateral forces exerted by the older age group lead t o the hypothesis of a different stabilization strategy based on energy saving. Findings were also discussed in relationship with the lateral stabilization process and applications were made to sport and fitness activities a s well a s the daily living situations .