Why human feet evolved arches—and what happens if you lack them

27 February 2020

The longitudinal arch has long been considered a crucial structure that provides stiffness to the human foot. Now the transverse arch is stepping into the spotlight, with a proposed central role in the evolution of human foot stiffness.

Humans evolved to walk and run effectively on the ground using two feet. Our arched foot, which is not a characteristic of other primates, is a unique feature crucial for human bipedalism. The arch provides the foot with the stiffness necessary to act as a lever that transmits the forces generated by leg muscles as they push against the ground. The arch also retains sufficient flexibility to function like a spring to store and then release mechanical energy.

Based on new research from Yale University, Associate Professor Glen Lichtwark and Dr Luke Kelly from UQ's School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences present a new view of how foot stiffness is regulated.

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