Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Physical Education: Exercise Science


Physical Education, Health and Recreation

First Advisor

Wendy Repovich

Second Advisor

Emily Messina

Third Advisor

Martin Weiser


Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of death due to injury and hospitalization. With age, cutaneous sensation in the foot sole diminishes, contributing to balance impairment. Discovering an effective method for retraining the mechanoreceptors of the feet will possibly increase balance control. Training the different physiological systems involved in balance maintenance is important for decreasing fall risks. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a balance training intervention involving barefoot training (BT) yields better static and dynamic balance, and postural sway values than a group wearing shoes (WS). Twelve older adults (65-92 years) were randomly assigned into a BT or WS group. Both groups participated in 50 minute exercise sessions, three days a week, for six weeks. The sessions included strength, balance, and stretching exercises based on the Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) program. All participants completed a functional reach test (FRT), single-leg stance (SLS), timed up and go (TUG), 30 second chair stand (CS), and postural sway analysis with eyes open (SEO) and eyes closed (SEC). A repeated measures 2x6 ANOVA found no significant difference between the mean difference of the two groups. Pearson correlations were run to identify relationships between leg strength and all variables, pre to pre scores, and post to post scores. A two-tailed paired samples t test was used to compare mean differences from pre (Pre) to post (Post) scores. PreTUG and PreFRT (r = -.65, p = .022) had a significant negative relationship, as well as, PreTUG and PreCS (r = -.71, p = .009). A significant positive relationship was noted between the PreSEC and PreSEO. PostCS and PostTUG (r =-.85, p = .000) and PostCS to PostSEC (r = -.58, p = .05) remained significant. A significant association was found between the PostSLS and PostFRT (r = .63, p = .027). PreFRT to PostFRT means had a significant difference (p = .000), as did PreCS to PostCS (p = .000). No difference was found between the two groups in static and dynamic balance or postural sway. The results suggest that leg strength is an important factor in dynamic balance and postural sway without visual input. Also, static balance and leg strength can be significantly improved in older adults participating in a six week balance and strength training intervention.