The effects of a completely new, research-based concept for children's shoes on the functional development of the lower limb in children


We will produce footwear based on a completely new design concept for children arising from recently developed knowledge of the natural patterns of anatomical flexing and propulsion. We will compare the short and long term biomechanical effects on children of the prototype, a standard leather shoe, a custom built "midfoot flexing" shoe that will isolate a key biomechanical factor, and a barefoot control. Health practitioners, parents and manufacturers will know the footwear characteristics that encourage healthy foot development.


Professor Richard Smith, Dr Adrienne Hunt

Research Location

Exercise, Health and Performance Research Group

Program Type



The aim of the project is to deliver footwear to children that enables optimal musculoskeletal growth, development and safety. Our specific objectives are:1. Create the design for and construct a prototype shoe that allows natural foot mobility and function.2. Conduct a series of rigorous biomechanical trials of shoe wearing in 10-12 year olds to compare the short and long term performance of (a) the prototype, (b) a midfoot flexing shoe we will construct to determine the role of a key biomechanical movement, and (c) a conventional leather "stiff" school shoe. We will test our hypothesis that the wearing of the prototype will increase midfoot joint power, midfoot joint flexibility, and perturbed balance performance under both shod and unshod conditions.3. Derive a wear and tear profile of the functional mechanical properties of the three experimental shoes over the two years of the experiment.

Additional Information

The project provides an opportunity for students interested in pursuing research in both biomechanics and engineering.1. A wide range of biomechanical variables will be used in the analysis of lower limb function in the short and long term which will provide a rich source of material for papers in biomechanics.2. During the project it will be necessary to assess the mechanical performance of the shoes in providing the desired physical properties to match foot function. How these properties change over the longer term will be another important pattern to establish.  This latter area will provide a fruitful series of investigations for an engineering student who would also gain experience working with an international company.The project is managed by a Footwear Research Team with 15 years of experience in lower limb and footwear research. The team is resourced by a state of the art biomechanics laboratory and a wealth of software and hardware infrastructure. The research is conducted in the Faculty of Health Sciences Exercise Health and Performance Research Group which provides an exciting and supportive research environment. Current Honours and PhD students are working on topic such as shoes and dance performance and factors that influence choice of shoes for children.Potential candidates can apply for scholarship support and should have an undergraduate background in biomechanics or engineering.

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children, footwear, Lower Limb Function, Biomechanics, Engineering, physical performance, Mechanical properties

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 527

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