Bare Feet in Medicine


  • Steven Robbins, Edward Waked, and Ron Rappel. "Ankle taping improves proprioception before and after exercise in young men," British Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(4), 1995, pp. 242-247.

    Ankle sprains are common sports injuries. Inadequate awareness is thought to be the fundamental cause of these injuries. Ankle taping may decrease the risk of injury through improving foot postition awareness.
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    While taping improves foot position sense when humans wear athletic footwear, it remains poor compared to the barefoot condition if we use barefoot pre-exercise data available from a previous report for comparison. Absolute foot position error was 4.11°, 3.13°, anmd 1.96° for athletic footwear, athletic footwear taped, and barefoot, respectively. Therefore when compared to the barefoot condition, foot position awareness was 107.5% worse in uptaped subjects with athletic footwear, and 58.1% worse in ankle taped subjects wearing athletic footwear.
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    The inescapable conclusion is that footwear use is ultimately responsible for ankle injury. The conclusion is consistent with observations made among populations where barefoot activity is the norm. Ankle sprains are uncommon in these groups.
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    From another perspective it suggests that most ankle injuries are not inherent to sport, but rather are caused by footwear.