Presentation Title

Do anatomical variations in human feet allow some individuals to walk faster with less effort?

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8802-0003

Advisor Information

Dr. Kota Z Takahashi

Location

MBSC Gallery Room 308 - G

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

4-3-2022 2:00 PM

End Date

4-3-2022 3:15 PM

Abstract

The calf muscles are attached to the heel bone of our feet, and the heel morphology functions like a skeletal lever that increases their force capability to maintain the upright posture and produce movement. While prior studies have indicated that natural variations in foot anthropometry (e.g., heel & hallux lengths) between humans can directly affect force production of calf muscles, its effect on the metabolic energy cost of locomotion has been inconclusive. By gaining an objective understanding of the interplay between foot anatomy and calf-muscle function, we aspire to design and develop the next generation of wearable devices (e.g., footwear) that assist, restore, or even surpass human muscle capability. For example, footwear industries compete to design shoes to enhance walking and running performance. The most recent design on footwear modification is the inclusion of carbon fiber plates. However, even though these newly developed shoes reduce the metabolic cost of locomotion, the biological mechanism causing this metabolic reduction is not clear. A hypothesis suggests that the carbon fiber insoles alter the muscles' mechanical leverage, amplify muscles' force-generating capacity, and allow the calf muscles to produce desired forces more economically. This research study explored this theory and investigated how the variations in foot anatomy affect calf muscle's force production, contraction velocity, and energy cost of walking at various speeds. We found that individuals with longer heels expend less metabolic energy, but only at speed above a typical comfortable speed – allowing them to push against the ground more effectively to walk faster.

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Mar 4th, 2:00 PM Mar 4th, 3:15 PM

Do anatomical variations in human feet allow some individuals to walk faster with less effort?

MBSC Gallery Room 308 - G

The calf muscles are attached to the heel bone of our feet, and the heel morphology functions like a skeletal lever that increases their force capability to maintain the upright posture and produce movement. While prior studies have indicated that natural variations in foot anthropometry (e.g., heel & hallux lengths) between humans can directly affect force production of calf muscles, its effect on the metabolic energy cost of locomotion has been inconclusive. By gaining an objective understanding of the interplay between foot anatomy and calf-muscle function, we aspire to design and develop the next generation of wearable devices (e.g., footwear) that assist, restore, or even surpass human muscle capability. For example, footwear industries compete to design shoes to enhance walking and running performance. The most recent design on footwear modification is the inclusion of carbon fiber plates. However, even though these newly developed shoes reduce the metabolic cost of locomotion, the biological mechanism causing this metabolic reduction is not clear. A hypothesis suggests that the carbon fiber insoles alter the muscles' mechanical leverage, amplify muscles' force-generating capacity, and allow the calf muscles to produce desired forces more economically. This research study explored this theory and investigated how the variations in foot anatomy affect calf muscle's force production, contraction velocity, and energy cost of walking at various speeds. We found that individuals with longer heels expend less metabolic energy, but only at speed above a typical comfortable speed – allowing them to push against the ground more effectively to walk faster.