Introduction Combat boots are essential protective gear for military personnel. The purposes of the present study were to examine (1) the influence of combat boot type on ground reaction force (GRF) variables and perceived comfort during unloaded and loaded walking and (2) the relationship between comfort and biomechanical measurements.
Methods Four types of combat boots with different physical features (eg, mass, thickness) and mechanical properties (eg, cushioning, rigidity) were compared across 61 male participants with experience in military marching while carrying heavy loads. In each boot type, participants completed a 10-m walk under an unloaded and a 20-kg loaded conditions at their preferred speeds. Peak force and loading rate during walking were measured using the loadsol wireless in-shoe sensor system. Comfort level was assessed using a 7-point Likert scale. Difference between loaded and unloaded walking, and across boot types were statistically compared. Correlation analyses were performed between comfort and GRF variables.
Results On average across all boot types, participants walked 2.1% slower when carrying 20-kg loads while experiencing 24.3% higher peak force and 20.8% higher loading rate. Boot D was perceived as most comfortable, followed by boots C, B and A (χ2(2)=115.4, p<0.001). Participants walked slightly faster (p=0.022, ηp2 = 0.052) and displayed higher loading rates (p<0.001, ηp2=0.194) in the two more comfortable boots (C and D) than the less comfortable boots (A and B). No significant correlations were found between perceived comfort and any GRF variables.
Conclusions Combat boot features can influence perceived comfort ratings substantially during walking, whereas biomechanical differences among boot types are more subtle regardless of load conditions. The lack of relationship between comfort and force variables suggests that both subjective and objective measurements should be considered for comprehensive evaluation of combat boots.
- health & safety
- foot & ankle
- musculoskeletal disorders
- sports medicine
Data availability statement
Data are available in a public, open access repository. The datasets used and analysed during the current study are available at the NIE Data Repository: https://doi.org/10.25340/R4/KS5EE7.
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Contributors Conceptualisation: PWK and EXSY. Data collection: EXSY and KC. Data analysis: EXSY and PWK. Writing—original draft preparation: EXSY and PWK; writing—review, and editing: EXSY, KC and PWK. Supervision: PWK. All authors approved the final manuscript and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of this research. PWK is responsible for the overall content as the guarantor.
Funding We wish to acknowledge the funding support for this project from Nanyang Technological University under the URECA Undergraduate Research Programme.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.