Topic: Fundamental research in how the human foot functions during walking and running.
Overview: We investigated how modifying the shape of the arch of the human foot affects the energy absorbed and returned during a dynamic compression. To change the shape of the arch, we engaged the windlass mechanism of the plantar fascia by elevating the toes, which then causes the arch to be higher, but shorter in length. This mechanism has previously been suggested to stiffen the foot to prepare the foot for push – off while walking. However, we found that the foot absorbs and dissipates more energy when the windlass was engaged, compared to when the toes were lowered. This means that the foot was less stiff when the windlass was engaged. This has implications in shoe and foot orthosis design, where a change in the toe angle could affect the way the arch of the foot absorbs and dissipates energy.