Context Obesity is a growing global health concern. The increased body mass and altered mass distribution associated with obesity may be related to increases in plantar shear that putatively leads to physical functional deficits. Therefore, measurement of plantar shear may provide unique insights on the effects of body mass and body distribution on physical function or performance. Purpose 1) To investigate the effects of body mass and distribution on plantar shear. 2) To examine how altered plantar shear influences postural control and gait kinetics. Hypothesis 1) a weighted vest forward distributed (FV) would shift the center of pressure (CoP) location forward during standing compared with a weighted vest evenly distributed (EV), 2) FV would increase plantar shear spreading forces more than EV during standing, 3) FV would increase postural sway during standing while EV would not, and 4) FV would elicit greater compensatory changes during walking than EV. Methods Twenty healthy young males participated in four different tests: 1) static test (for measuring plantar shear and CoP location without acceleration, 2) bilateral-foot standing postural control test, 3) single-foot standing postural test, and 4) walking test. All tests were executed in three different weight conditions: 1) unweighted (NV), 2) EV with 20% added body mass, and 3) FV, also with 20% added body mass. Plantar shear stresses were measured using a pressure/shear device, and several shear and postural control metrics were extracted. Repeated measures ANOVAs with Holms post hoc test were used to compare each metric among the three conditions ([alpha] = 0.05). Results FV and EV increased both AP and ML plantar shear forces compared to NV. FV shifted CoP forward in single-foot trials. FV and EV showed decreased CoP range and velocity and increased Time-to-Boundary (TTB) during postural control compared to NV. EV and FV showed increased breaking impulse and propulsive impulse compared to NV. In addition, EV showed even greater impulses than FV. While EV increased ML plantar shear spreading force, FV increased AP plantar shear spreading force during walking. Conclusion Added body mass increases plantar shear spreading forces. Body mass distribution had greater effects during dynamic tasks. In addition, healthy young individuals seem to quickly adapt to external stimuli to control postural stability. However, as this is a first step study, follow-up studies are necessary to further support the clinical role of plantar shear in other populations such as elderly and individuals with obesity or diabetes.