Walking with added mass magnifies salient features of human foot energetics

Nikolaos Papachatzis, Philippe Malcolm, Carl A. Nelson, Kota Z. Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The human foot serves numerous functional roles during walking, including shock absorption and energy return. Here, we investigated walking with added mass to determine how the foot would alter its mechanical work production in response to a greater force demand. Twenty-one healthy young adults walked with varying levels of added body mass: 0%, +15% and +30% (relative to their body mass). We quantified mechanical work performed by the foot using a unified deformable segment analysis and a multi-segment foot model. We found that walking with added mass tended to magnify certain features of the foot's functions. Magnitudes of both positive and negative mechanical work, during stance in the foot, increased when walking with added mass. Yet, the foot preserved similar amounts of net negative work, indicating that the foot dissipates energy overall. Furthermore, walking with added mass increased the foot's negative work during early stance phase, highlighting the foot's role as a shock-absorber. During mid to late stance, the foot produced greater positive work when walking with added mass, which coincided with greater work from the structures spanning the midtarsal joint (i.e. arch). While this study captured the overall behavior of the foot when walking with varying force demands, future studies are needed to further determine the relative contribution of active muscles and elastic tissues to the foot's overall energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjeb207472
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Biomechanics
  • Energy
  • Locomotion
  • Multi-segment foot
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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