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The effect of footwear and surface conditions on spinal contour and flexibility with constrained standing
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Two studies were conducted to determine the effects on the spinal column, flexibility and the level of discomfort people experience as a result of standing using Converse All-Star athletic shoes on six different industrial floor surfaces and four different foot conditions for periods of four hours on four consecutive days. The floor surfaces used included two types of anti-fatigue mats (Hygenic 1, Ergomat), three types of industrial grating (Metal Grating, Clean Room Grating, Standard Clean Room floor) and concrete. The foot conditions on concrete used included Converses All-Star athletic shoes, Dr. Scholl shoe inserts inside Converse All-Star athletic shoes, Converse All-Star athletic shoes with a footrail, and Reebok walking shoes. Spinal contour and flexibility was measured before and after each trial, as well as subjective ratings. Although there was no statistical significance for the floor surface or foot condition with regard to flexibility, the greatest loss of flexibility occurred with concrete and the least loss of flexibility occurred with Hygenic 1 for the floor surface study. For foot conditions, the participants lost the most flexibility with Converse All-Star athletic shoes with Dr. Scholl shoe inserts followed by Converse All-Star athletic shoes and then Reebok walking shoes. The least loss of flexibility occurred with the Converse All-Star athletic shoes with a footrail. Males, overall, lost more flexibility than females. This apparent loss in flexibility and lack of significant change in the other dependent variables suggests the muscles tense to maintain the proper curvature in the spinal column when undergoing stress. In the subjective discomfort analysis, no significant difference was found for either floor surface or foot condition. Across floor surfaces, significance resulted between gender in the neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, thigh, knees, legs, and feet. Females generally reported experiencing more discomfort than males as a result of standing. The participants ranked the anti-fatigue mats as the most comfortable floor surface and ranked the use of a footrail and Reebok walking shoes as the most comfortable foot conditions.
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Stephenson, Donya Ann (1995). The effect of footwear and surface conditions on spinal contour and flexibility with constrained standing. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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