About Professor Richard Smith

I am excited by the insights biomechanics can reveal and spurred on by the progress our own team has made in understanding human physical performance.

Richard Smith has a deep interest in human physical performance whether it is the process of recovering from injury or illness, maximising sport performance or just optimising day to day function. To pursue these interests he has a PhD in biomechanics and manages a state of the art biomechanics laboratory and a team of biomechanists and research students. He has supervised 11 PhD, 11 Masters and 14 Honours students to completion. His main research interests are footwear and lower limb mechanics and rowing performance.

I am a very enthusiastic biomechanics researcher. I am motivated by the way our studies of human mechanics reveal the clever mechanisms the human body uses, for the most part, to achieve efficiency and prevent injury during the performance of physical activities. When these processes break down biomechanics again has the tools to help understand why, suggest means of rehabilitation and assess how well the learning/curing process has worked. I have two areas of research interest: footwear and lower limb mechanics and rowing performance.Footwear mechanics: With colleagues I have explored the basic mechanics of foot motion & control and have extended this to the effects of footwear on lower limb mechanics during walking and running. I used advanced principles of power flow to determine the source of injurious forces and torques acting on the lower limbs during running and walking with and without footwear and to show that the midfoot joint generates power comparable to the ankle joint during the propulsion phase. I demonstrated that this power is considerably reduced by wearing shoes and must be compensated for by increased power at the ankle joint. The application of the same methods to childrens footwear in a Linkage grant with Clarks Australia has demonstrated the same effects and resulted in recommendations for improved shoe design.Rowing Biomechanics: I am developing whole body muscle driven computer models of rowing to compare computer optimised rowing with the best real performances on the water. I was invited by the IOC to present on athlete feedback in biomechanics at the Fifth International Olympic Committee World Congress on Sport Science in 1999; by FISA to present on rowing mechanics in 2003 and by the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport to present on mechanical modelling of the human body at the XXIst Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport 2004. I have developed many of the concepts of mechanical energy expenditure and motor control used in the rehabilitation context through my research of the rowing movement. My work in this field has been internationally recognised through invitations to keynote presentations at peak world body conferences, including the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport and Federation Internationale des Societes d'aviron. I collaborate with colleagues at the Australian Institute of Sport and the NSW Institute of Sport, the previous Cooperative Research Centre & internationally in pursuing my rowing research. For rowing I have developed the most advanced onwater rowing biomechanical assessment system and have applied it to the assessment and performance improvement of elite to beginning level rowers.Publications and Grants: I have edited a book on computer simulation of human movement, published 10 chapters in research based books, 41 journal papers in international refereed journals and 183 refereed conference proceedings. I co-wrote the successful application for the $8.7m federally funded International Centre of Excellence in Sport Science and Management, now Sports Knowledge Australia. I serve as a member of the Academic Council. I have secured research grants of $4.1m ($3.8m national competitive, $3.2m as lead CI).Professional activities: I am a founding member of the Australian Sports Research Network that enables the development of strategic alliances to promote high level research and build synergies that advance the value and reputation of Australian sport & sports research nationally and internationally. I am Vice President of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport 2000-2008. I am on the editorial committee of the Society's Journal Sports Biomechanics & the yearly conference scientific committees of this Society, the Australasian Biomechanics Conference & the International Society of Biomechanics.

Selected publications

  • Wegener C, Hunt A, Vanwanseele B, Burns J & Smith R. (2011). Effect of children's shoes on gait: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 4 (3):1-13.
  • O'Meara D, Vanwanseele B, Hunt A and Smith R. (2010) The reliability and validity of a three-camera foot image system for obtaining foot anthropometrics. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, Aug;26 (3):349-56
  • Hofmijster MJ, Landman EHJ, Smith RM, van Soest AJ (2007) Effect of stroke rate on the distribution of net mechanical energy in rowing. Journal of Sports Sciences. 25(4), 403 - 411.
  • Smith RM, McDonald J (2007) Power developed by the midfoot joint during running with and without shoes. Proceedings of the XX111rd  Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport.  Ouro Preto, Brazil 23-27 August. 244-247.
  • Smith RM, Hunt A, Buchen P, Poon S (2006) Estimating the talocrural and subtalar joint axis orientations using a minimisation of variance technique. In Smith RM, Sinclair PJ (Eds) Computer Modelling of Human Movement Sydney University Press, Australia. 65-72.