Footwear and Human Evolution
We humans have been barefoot, or worn simple, minimal footwear for most of our species’ existence. However, these days most people in industrialized countries wear cushioned, supportive and/or restrictive shoes during most daily activities. These features of modern shoes affect the natural motion of our feet, reduce our ability to sense the surfaces we walk on, and alter the forces that we experience while walking and running. These factors may interrupt our bodies' naturally evolved biomechanics, with unknown consequences on our musculoskeletal health.
To investigate the potential consequences of modern footwear use, I am studying:
For examples of my research with the Tarahumara, see my paper in Scientific Reports on foot muscle strength and stiffness, and my paper in Royal Society Open Science with Ian Wallace and other members of the Lieberman Lab on impact forces during walking.
Biomechanics of the Longitudinal Arch
The longitudinal arch is a structure unique to the feet of humans, but we still do not fully understand its adaptive function in our species. Previous studies suggest the longitudinal arch behaves like a spring to store and release energy during running, and uses passive and active mechanisms to stiffen the foot during walking. I am conducting laboratory-based biomechanics research to test these ideas, with a specific focus on the following questions:
For an overview of major concepts in human longitudinal arch biomechanics and evolution, see my recent review paper in Journal of Experimental Biology with Dr. Daniel Lieberman.
Chimpanzee Locomotion and the Origins of Bipedalism
Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, making them an excellent model for understanding the evolutionary origins of bipedalism. In collaboration with researchers from Stony Brook University, Midwestern University, and NYIT College of Osteopathic medicine, I am investigating chimpanzee locomotion to understand how:
For an example of this research, see my paper in Scientific Reports on the relationship between toe anatomy and function in humans and chimpanzees. This research was started by researchers at Stony Brook University. For more information about this project, see: