Nav: Home

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development

July 11, 2018

New research finds that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to assess the relevance of growing up shod vs. barefoot on jumping, balancing and sprinting motor performance during different stages of childhood and adolescence. The study shows that habitually barefoot children are noticeably better at jumping and balancing compared to habitually shod children, particularly from 6-10 years of age. While these beneficial barefoot effects diminished in older adolescents, the research nevertheless highlights the importance of barefoot exercise for motor development as children grow and mature.

"Walking barefoot is widely thought to be more natural, and the use of footwear has long been discussed as an influencing factor on foot health and movement pattern development," explains Professor Astrid Zech from the University of Jena, Germany, who led the study.

"A few studies report that barefoot situations change biomechanics in children and adults during running and jumping -- but only limited knowledge exists for the clinical relevance of this finding," she continues. "We wanted to investigate, for the first time, whether changes in foot biomechanics due to barefoot activities are actually relevant for the development of basic motor skills during childhood and adolescence."

Zech, together with two research teams, assessed three motor skills -- balance, standing long jump and a-20 m sprint -- in 810 children and adolescents from 22 primary and secondary schools across rural Western Cape South Africa and urban areas of northern Germany. The two groups were selected to represent different footwear lifestyles: children from South Africa are habitually barefoot, while children from Germany wear shoes most of the time.

The habitually barefoot participants scored significantly higher in the balance and jumping tests compared to the habitually shod participants. This difference was observed in both test conditions (barefoot and shod) and across all age groups (6-10, 11-14 and 15-18 years), but particularly evident in 6-10 year-old children. The habitually barefoot children also performed better when barefoot than when shod.

"Most of the primary school children in our study (South Africa) go to school and perform sport and leisure activities barefoot," says Professor Ranel Venter from Stellenbosch University, who led the South African research team. "Our finding that these children performed better in balancing and jumping supports the hypothesis that the development of basic motor skills during childhood and adolescence at least partly depends on regular barefoot activities."

The results for the sprint test, however, were different. Here the habitually shod children performed better, particularly those in the 11-14 year age group, and both groups performed better while shod. The researchers explain that environment - the one factor that could not be standardized across the two study locations - may have influenced this result.

"In South Africa, the sprint test took place outdoors - with different weather conditions and surfaces. In contrast, the German children took the sprint test indoors, mostly in a sports hall with a sprung floor," says Zech. "The type of shoe may also have influenced the results. South African students run in school shoes, while German students use sneakers or athletic shoes in their physical education classes. So while our results suggest that growing up shod may be beneficial for fast sprinting, we need to investigate this further."

Overall, the researchers' work emphasises the benefits of barefoot physical activities for motor development.

"Physical education classes, exercise and sport programs, and reactional activities that aim to improve basic motor skills could benefit from including barefoot activities," says Zech. "Parents could also encourage regular barefoot time at home."
-end-
Please include a link to the original research article in your reporting: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fped.2018.00115/full

Frontiers is an award-winning Open Science platform and leading open-access scholarly publisher. Our mission is to make high-quality, peer-reviewed research articles rapidly and freely available to everybody in the world, thereby accelerating scientific and technological innovation, societal progress and economic growth. For more information, visit http://www.frontiersin.org and follow @Frontiersin on Twitter.

Frontiers

Related Children Articles:

Do children inherently want to help others?
A new special section of the journal Child Development includes a collection of ten empirical articles and one theoretical article focusing on the predictors, outcomes, and mechanisms related to children's motivations for prosocial actions, such as helping and sharing.
Children need conventional CPR; black and Hispanic children more likely to get Hands-Only
While compressions-only or Hands-Only CPR is as good as conventional CPR for adults, children benefit more from the conventional approach that includes rescue breaths.
Cohen Children's Medical Center study: Children on autism spectrum more likely to wander, disappear
A new study by researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York suggests that more than one-quarter million school-age children with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disorders wander away from adult supervision each year.
The importance of children at play
Research highlights positive strengths in developmental learning for Latino children in low-income households based on their interactive play skills.
Racial disparities in pain children of children with appendicitis in EDs
Black children were less likely to receive any pain medication for moderate pain and less likely to receive opioids for severe pain than white children in a study of racial disparities in the pain management of children with appendicitis in emergency departments, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.
UofL offers vaccine trial for children with relapsed tumors at Kosair Children's Hospital
Children with relapsed tumors and their parents are finding hope in a Phase I research study led by Kenneth G.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's opens immunotherapy trial for children with leukemia
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has joined a clinical trial of immunotherapy for children with relapsed or treatment-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Children less likely to come to the rescue when others are available
Children as young as 5 years old are less likely to help a person in need when other children are present and available to help, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
IPT for children with anaemia
Researchers from Tanzania and South Africa, who are part of the Cochrane Infectious Disease Group, hosted at LSTM, have conducted an independent review to assess the effect of intermittent preventive antimalarial treatment for children with anaemia living in malaria endemic regions.
Safety first, children
Children are experts at getting into danger. So, how can parents help prevent the consequences?

Related Children Reading:

Children
by John W Santrock (Author)

The Pout-Pout Fish
by Deborah Diesen (Author), Dan Hanna (Illustrator)

Giraffes Can't Dance
by Giles Andreae (Author), Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why (National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books)
by Amy Shields (Author)

Welcome to the Symphony: A Musical Exploration of the Orchestra Using Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
by Carolyn Sloan (Author), James Williamson (Illustrator)

You Belong Here
by M.H. Clark (Author), Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator)

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak (Author), Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
by Siegfried Engelmann (Author), Phyllis Haddox (Author), Elaine Bruner (Author)

Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch (Author), Sheila McGraw (Illustrator)

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha)
by Tomi Adeyemi (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Dying Well
Is there a way to talk about death candidly, without fear ... and even with humor? How can we best prepare for it with those we love? This hour, TED speakers explore the beauty of life ... and death. Guests include lawyer Jason Rosenthal, humorist Emily Levine, banker and travel blogger Michelle Knox, mortician Caitlin Doughty, and entrepreneur Lux Narayan.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#491 Frankenstein LIVES
Two hundred years ago, Mary Shelley gave us a legendary monster, shaping science fiction for good. Thanks to her, the name of Frankenstein is now famous world-wide. But who was the real monster here? The creation? Or the scientist that put him together? Tune in to a live show from Dragon Con 2018 in Atlanta, as we breakdown the science of Frankenstein, complete with grave robbing and rivers of maggots. Featuring Tina Saey, Lucas Hernandez, Travor Valle, and Nancy Miorelli. Moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Related links: Scientists successfully transplant lab-grown lungs into pigs, by Maria Temming on Science...