Petra Kis1, Abigail Johnson2, Jessica Mutchler1, Li Li, FACSM1, Barry Munkasy1, Sam Wilson1. 1Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA. 2University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

BACKGROUND: Cheerleading, specifically flyers require athletes to perform sport-specific movements such as the heel stretch and arabesque that stresses balance performance. Footwear affects human balance, and literature suggests that older footwear may cause further balance decrements. However, balance has not been examined in cheerleader-specific footwear. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine balance in collegiate flyers while wearing “old” and “new” cheer shoes. METHODS: Nine healthy female collegiate cheerleaders with no history of neuro-musculoskeletal disorders that had completed a cheerleading season as a flyer within the last year completed this study. Participants completed balance testing on separate testing days while wearing either a “new” or “old” pair of cheerleading shoes. Participants self-reported the number of training hours that the shoes have been worn in order to calculate shoe age. Balance testing consisted of three 20-second trials for each condition. Balance conditions were randomized for each participant and included heel stretch on the force plate, and foam pad, and arabesque on the force plate, and foam pad. The average sway velocity (VEL) and root-mean-square (RSMS) of the center of pressure were used to quantify balance in the anterior-posterior (AP) and medial-lateral (ML) directions. Paired samples t-tests were used to analyze the results, with an alpha level of 0.05, and Cohen’s d was reported as a measure of effect size. RESULTS: Analyses revealed no statistically significant differences for balance measures between footwear (all p > 0.05). However, results did suggest moderate effect sizes for APRMS on the force plate during the heel stretch (d = 0.54) and MLRMS on the force plate during the arabesque (d = 0.53) suggesting balance decrements in the old shoes. CONCLUSIONS: While not statistically significant, findings of this study may suggest balance decrements in the old cheer shoes. Previous research has suggested that old ballet footwear causes balance decrements during ballet-specific positions due to the breakdown of the footwear characteristics. It is possible that the older cheer footwear in the current study caused balance decrements during these flyer-specific positions due to the breakdown of footwear characteristics such as the sole and midsole.

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