Optimising the spring in your step – human foot function and footwear design
Project lead: Dr Dominic Farris
Da Vinci described the human foot as a ‘masterpiece of engineering’ but we are still figuring out how it has evolved to allow us to walk and run in an upright posture. As part of a collaboration with The University of Queensland (Australia) and ASICS Oceania this project aims to understand the foot’s contribution to human movement more deeply.
This project is unpicking how the nervous system and the muscles it triggers are involved in making the foot function as a mechanical system. We measure neural activity, complex motions of the foot, and advanced computer modelling and simulation to measure and predict the importance of muscular control for healthy foot function. We are also testing novel footwear designs to re-examine how the foot should be supported.
- Farris DJ, Kelly L, Cresswell A, Lichtwark G (2019). The functional importance of human foot muscles for bipedal locomotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Kelly L, Farris DJ, Cresswell A, Lichtwark G (2018). Intrinsic foot muscles contribute to elastic energy storage and return in the human foot. Journal of Applied Physiology.
- Riddick R, Farris DJ, Kelly LA (2019). The foot is more than a spring: human foot muscles perform work to adapt to the energetic requirements of locomotion. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE, 16(150).
- Kelly LA, Cresswell AG, Farris DJ (2018). The energetic behaviour of the human foot across a range of running speeds. Scientific Reports, 8(1).
News and media coverage:
- 'Beware the hype – springy soles won’t make you run much faster' - The Conversation
- 'Step forward in understanding human feet'
- 'What New Findings in the Evolution of Our Feet Means For Runners' - Map My Run blog
- 'Why running shoe designers may have been getting it wrong for years' - Brisbane Times