The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion

Sarah M. Stearne, Kirsty A. McDonald, Jacqueline A. Alderson, Ian North, Charles E. Oxnard, Jonas Rubenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The energy-sparing spring theory of the foot's arch has become central to interpretations of the foot's mechanical function and evolution. Using a novel insole technique that restricted compression of the foot's longitudinal arch, this study provides the first direct evidence that arch compression/recoil during locomotion contributes to lowering energy cost. Restricting arch compression near maximally (∼80%) during moderate-speed (2.7 ms-1) level running increased metabolic cost by + 6.0% (p < 0.001, d = 0.67; unaffected by foot strike technique). A simple model shows that the metabolic energy saved by the arch is largely explained by the passive-elastic work it supplies that would otherwise be done by active muscle. Both experimental and model data confirm that it is the end-range of arch compression that dictates the energy-saving role of the arch. Restricting arch compression had no effect on the cost of walking or incline running (3°), commensurate with the smaller role of passive-elastic mechanics in these gaits. These findings substantiate the elastic energy-saving role of the longitudinal arch during running, and suggest that arch supports used in some footwear and orthotics may increase the cost of running.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19403
JournalScientific reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 19 2016

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Locomotion
Running
Foot
Costs and Cost Analysis
Mechanics
Gait
Walking
Longitudinal Studies
Theoretical Models
Muscles

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

Stearne, S. M., McDonald, K. A., Alderson, J. A., North, I., Oxnard, C. E., & Rubenson, J. (2016). The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion. Scientific reports, 6, [19403]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep19403
Stearne, Sarah M. ; McDonald, Kirsty A. ; Alderson, Jacqueline A. ; North, Ian ; Oxnard, Charles E. ; Rubenson, Jonas. / The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion. In: Scientific reports. 2016 ; Vol. 6.
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Stearne, SM, McDonald, KA, Alderson, JA, North, I, Oxnard, CE & Rubenson, J 2016, 'The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion', Scientific reports, vol. 6, 19403. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep19403

The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion. / Stearne, Sarah M.; McDonald, Kirsty A.; Alderson, Jacqueline A.; North, Ian; Oxnard, Charles E.; Rubenson, Jonas.

In: Scientific reports, Vol. 6, 19403, 19.01.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Stearne SM, McDonald KA, Alderson JA, North I, Oxnard CE, Rubenson J. The Foot's Arch and the Energetics of Human Locomotion. Scientific reports. 2016 Jan 19;6. 19403. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep19403