Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Human Motion

pp 1-10

Date: Latest Version

Functional Effects of Shoes

  • Benedicte VanwanseeleAffiliated withDepartment of Movement Sciences, KU LeuvenFontys University of Applied Sciences Email author 


Shoes are an outer covering for the foot, consisting of a more or less stiff sole and a lighter upper that does not extend above the ankle. Shoes have been worn throughout history to protect the feet from physical trauma and environmental extremes with the oldest known footwear being well-preserved leather shoes dating from around 3500 BC. While protection is the primary purpose of shoes, fashion and style considerations also influence shoe design with functional consequences on the foot and lower limb often neglected or of secondary consideration in shoe design and the purchase of shoes. All shoes have the function to protect against physical trauma. For normal daily footwear that is mainly against wounds while sport shoes have to protect not only the feet but also the joint and musculoskeletal tissue against injuries (acute and overuse injuries). In addition, in specific sports, they are also designed to improve performance (e.g., lightweight spikes). Besides protection, a lot of research has focused on two main functions of the shoe: shock attenuation and rearfoot pronation due to the assumed interaction with the development of musculoskeletal injuries. This chapter will discuss these functions in a broader framework, looking at the function of shoes in relation to loading, foot movement, and performance.


Footwear Shock Pronation Motion