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BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010 Feb 3;11:24. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-11-24.

A comparison of lower limb EMG and ground reaction forces between barefoot and shod gait in participants with diabetic neuropathic and healthy controls.

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University of São Paulo, School of Medicine, Physical Therapy, Speech and Occupational Therapy Department, São Paulo, Brazil.



It is known that when barefoot, gait biomechanics of diabetic neuropathic patients differ from non-diabetic individuals. However, it is still unknown whether these biomechanical changes are also present during shod gait which is clinically advised for these patients. This study investigated the effect of the participants own shoes on gait biomechanics in diabetic neuropathic individuals compared to barefoot gait patterns and healthy controls.


Ground reaction forces and lower limb EMG activities were analyzed in 21 non-diabetic adults (50.9 +/- 7.3 yr, 24.3 +/- 2.6 kg/m2) and 24 diabetic neuropathic participants (55.2 +/- 7.9 yr, 27.0 +/- 4.4 kg/m2). EMG patterns of vastus lateralis, lateral gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior, along with the vertical and antero-posterior ground reaction forces were studied during shod and barefoot gait.


Regardless of the disease, walking with shoes promoted an increase in the first peak vertical force and the peak horizontal propulsive force. Diabetic individuals had a delay in the lateral gastrocnemius EMG activity with no delay in the vastus lateralis. They also demonstrated a higher peak horizontal braking force walking with shoes compared to barefoot. Diabetic participants also had a smaller second peak vertical force in shod gait and a delay in the vastus lateralis EMG activity in barefoot gait compared to controls.


The change in plantar sensory information that occurs when wearing shoes revealed a different motor strategy in diabetic individuals. Walking with shoes did not attenuate vertical forces in either group. Though changes in motor strategy were apparent, the biomechanical did not support the argument that the use of shoes contributes to altered motor responses during gait.

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