what characteristics of the foot help to achieve balance?

i am thinking a triangle heel-ball-outside foot. i also considered shifting weight to the outer areas of the foot. any other ideas?

PF (posture foundation) flyers became famous for inserting a wedge into their shoes which forced weight to the outer part of the foot and claiming that it corrects posture.

This topic is much debated, and anything you do, to prove it out would require a test group to put it through some trials.

IMO, I think it depends on what the shoe is going to be used for. Balance needs vary depending on the activity.

“what characteristics of the foot help to achieve balance?”


The hard thing about testing any theories on this would be to isolate the foot. So much of the body plays a part in balancing at any given time that it’d be difficult to know what is affecting things. Also, are you talking about balance at rest, or in motion? Think about how other things balance, like bikes, or people on stilts (no toes or ankles), etc. What properties of the foot are similar to the things going on with those? What is the foot doing in ballet or pointe, where balance is critical?

I’m not sure that the foot has that much to do with balance directly. I think it just has mechanisms that allow easy repositioning of weight to compensate for the way gravity is pushing us down at any given time. It seems like the only way to distinguish between the contributions of any part of the foot would be to specify a position to be balanced in and methodically emphasize or de-emphasize parts of the foot and see what changes in how the person (or mannequin) is balanced.

i am designing a shoe for people that are slightly disabled or less abled. if i could create a sole that increases balance that would be a nice feature. someone said “toes”, in martial arts if you point your toes up so they dont touch the floor your balance increases. but to make someone suffer a shoe of this sort wouldnt be right…

Im not so sure about that one. In yoga you spread your toes on the ground to increase ground contact and balance

In martial arts you point your toes up so you don’t break them when you’re kicking someone with the balls of your feet. I know ballerinas, dancers + yogis, they all do the toes spread wide thing for balance. Being on the balls of your feet help with mobility + spinning.

i was once told that without the big toe we would not be able to balance while walking, seems logical as it does take alot of the weight when we lift the heel to take a new step forward.

pointing your toes up in martial arts for balance? never heard of it and seems totally ridiculous especially because when trying to balance we seem to try and grip the floor with our toes.

I’ve done lots of shoes for people with foot problems including severe arthritis, amputations etc. The best thing you can do to assist balance is the following:
Keep the shoe low to the ground; no more than 10mm heel lift and just enough toe spring to keep you from tripping.
Make sure the shoe is flexible in the forefoot the user doesn’t have to work too hard to flex it.
A wide base is important, think about flair in the heel and don’t go over board on the edge radius.
People with foot /balance issues sometimes have nueropathy, watch your seams in the forefoot (or leave them out)

Good luck

Do not forget that balance is really linked with the inner ear. You may want to think about how the inner ear is used to assist foot placement while walking, standing,etc.

i am actually specifically looking at peripheral neuropathy. thus far ive gained that people afflicted by neuropathy have a decrease in positional sense, loss of sensation and control over the foot and lower leg. i was thinking of trying to distribute the weight towards the outter portions of the foot to increase balance. Or even to shift weight to specific areas of the foot that are essential in balance.

weighting the perimeter of the heel by removing material directly under the heel bone is a good idea. You will not want to do that in the forefoot because you will invert the metitarsal arch (the balls of the foot). It is best to keep the forefoot even with the ground. If you are able to engineer the last, keep the forefoot crowning to a minimum as well as make sure you have a fair amount of toe spring. Some people with foot problems have “foot drop” which means they cannot flex their ankles when they walk.