Previous research utilizing mechanical testing has revealed that footwear tread groove orientation has a significant impact on available friction. However, the influence of tread groove orientation on slip potential in human subjects has received little attention. The purpose of this study was to determine if footwear tread groove orientation influences slip outcome and severity. Thirty-six subjects were allocated into two groups matched by sex, age, height, and weight. Subjects in each group wore a shoe with a different tread groove orientation (parallel versus perpendicular). Subjects ambulated across water-contaminated porcelain ceramic tile, and their slip outcome was recorded. Slip severity was assessed by slip distance as quantified using a motion analysis system. Results indicated that the parallel groove group experienced a greater proportion of slip events (15 of 18) compared with the perpendicular groove group (9 of 18). On average, parallel grooves also resulted in significantly greater slip distances compared with perpendicular grooves (34.6 cm versus 5.6 cm). Our findings indicate that tread groove orientation has an impact on slip outcome and slip severity.
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