Dr Beno Nigg gave the opening keynote address at the International Society of Biomechanics, Footwear Biomechanics Symposium
He looked at the positive and negative outcomes of footwear biomechanics research in the past and more recently.
Two noted observation from Dr Nigg were negative outcomes of the last 10 years of research:
Research was often still descriptive/statistical and functional correlation between biomechanical variables and health or performance related outcome was not available
Sport injury development was not addressed by understanding the functional connection between the injuries and the related movement and forces.
It sounds familiar to what being said about foot orthoses research!
Dr Nigg suggested the follow research investments for future projects related to footwear:
a. Frequency of input signals:
Each force acting on the human foot can be described with amplitude and frequency. It has been suggested that the frequency component of this input signal is important, that it has been neglected in pas research and that many performance and injury related questions can be addressed by studying the frequency component of input signals
b. Kinematic and kinetics and injury development:
Injury development has often been studied by using statistical correlations between variables. It is suggested that the understanding of the development of specific sport injuries will make substantial progress if the studies use functional approaches, connecting local internal forces to overloading and failure of tissue.
c. Control systems:
Forces acting on the musculoskeletal structure of the human body produce not only mechanical changes but produce changes in the biochemical composition and changes in the sensory feedback. The quantification of those changes (eg through biological markers) will allow understanding changes in the tissue and/or the movement that may be related to injuries or changes in performance.
d. Biological adaptation:
Every force acting on the human bodies sends signals o the various tissues. Some of these signals may e responsible for bio-positive or bio-negative effects in structures of the locomotor system. Understanding the effects of such signals and understanding to send the right signals may be a strategy to prevent injuries and/or improve performance. The knowledge in this area of research is very limited. However, it may be possible to make substantial and relevant steps in this direction.
e. Biomechanical shoe-foot models:
Footwear research has only rarely been used mathematical models to predict behaviour of the locomotor system in systematically changed situations. However, this approach would probably provide more insight into loading, performance and injury conditions.
f. Intelligent footwear:
Shoes could/should/will be developed that “understand” the needs of the individual and adapt to these needs.
g. Performance and footwear:
Certain shoe constructions do affect performance positively and negatively. Research should concentrate to identify the reasons for these effects. The understanding of these functional correlations may provide insight into the basics of shoe construction.
There are many familiar themes running through Dr Nigg’s insights that have come up in this forum and other discussions, specifically related to footwear….. good to know that we too are on the right track.