Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescents

Hollander, Karsten ; De Villiers, Johanna Elsabe ; Sehner, Susanne ; Wegscheider, Karl ; Braumann, Klaus-Michael ; Venter, Ranel ; Zech, Astrid (2017)

CITATION: Hollander, K., et al. 2017. Growing-up (habitually) barefoot influences the development of foot and arch morphology in children and adolescents. Scientific Reports, 7:8079, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07868-4.

The original publication is available at https://www.nature.com

Article

The development of the human foot is crucial for motor learning in children and adolescents as it ensures the basic requirements for bipedal locomotion and stable standing. Although there is an ongoing debate of the advantages and disadvantages of early and permanent footwear use, the influence of regular barefootness on foot characteristics in different stages of child development has not been extensively evaluated. A multicenter epidemiological study was conducted to compare the foot morphology between habitually barefoot children and adolescents (N = 810) to age-, sex- and ethnicity-matched counterparts that are used to wearing shoes. While controlling for confounders, we found that habitual footwear use has significant effects on foot-related outcomes in all age groups, such as a reduction in foot arch and hallux angles. The results indicate an impact of habitual footwear use on the development of the feet of children and adolescents. Therefore, growing up barefoot or shod may play an important role for childhood foot development, implying long-term consequences for motor learning and health later in life.

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