Response of able-bodied persons to changes in shoe rocker radius during walking: Changes in ankle kinematics to maintain a consistent roll-over shape

Charles C. Wang, Andrew H. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Recent studies have determined a seemingly consistent feature of able-bodied level ground walking, termed the roll-over shape, which is the effective rocker (cam) shape that the lower limb system conforms to between heel contact and contralateral heel contact during walking (first half of the gait cycle). The roll-over shape has been found to be largely unaffected by changes in walking speed, load carriage, and shoe heel height. However, it is unclear from previous studies whether persons are controlling their lower limb systems to maintain a consistent roll-over shape or whether this finding is a byproduct of their attempt to keep ankle kinematic patterns similar during the first half of the gait cycle. We measured the ankle-foot roll-over shapes and ankle kinematics of eleven able-bodied subjects while walking on rocker shoes of different radii. We hypothesized that the ankle flexion patterns during single support would change to maintain a similar roll-over shape. We also hypothesized that with decrease in rocker shoe radii, the difference in ankle flexion between the end and beginning of single support would decrease. Our results supported these hypotheses. Ankle kinematics were changed significantly during walking with the different rocker shoe radii (p<0.001), while ankle-foot roll-over shape radii (p=0.146) and fore-aft position (p=0.132) were not significantly affected. The results of this study have direct implications for designers of ankle-foot prostheses, orthoses, walking casts/boots, and rocker shoes. The results may also be relevant to researchers studying control of human movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2288-2293
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the use of the VA Chicago Motion Analysis Research Laboratory. We would like to thank Rebecca Stine for her help with data collection and analysis, Stefania Fatone for her help with ankle strength and range of motion testing, Kathy Waldera for her help with making the rocker shoes, and Sara Koehler and Brian Ruhe for their help with statistics used in this study. This publication was made possible by Grant number R03-HD050428-01A2 from the NIH . Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


  • Ankle kinematics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Rockers
  • Roll-over shape


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