The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of specially designed zori, a Japanese- sandal, for enhancing walking performance. A total of 89 women aged 59-75 were randomly assigned to either the intervention or control group. The intervention group wore the zori for 6 months while the control group did not. We conducted physical assessments, including The Good Walker’s Index, which consisted of a 10-m walking time measurement, maximal step length, the 40/20-cm step test and tandem gait, and measurement of the toe-gap force (TGF). Additionally, bare foot plantar pressure distribution was measured using a foot-mapping sensor, while gait characteristics were measured using three dimensional sensors. In the intervention group, means for TGF improved significantly between baseline and three months and between baseline and six months, but this improvement was not evident in the control group. In the intervention group, the means for pressure and surface areas of both left and right feet significantly decreased over time compared with the control group. Three-dimensional analysis found that left and right ankle height was enhanced in the intervention group, and their walking speed was improved by the extension of their stride length and an increase in the height of the tiptoe in one cycle. The findings in our study indicate that zori can be useful in improving lower leg function through TGF enhancement and adjustment of the pressure pattern.
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