Humans are unique animals for many reasons. The single feature that truly sets us apart from the hundreds of other primate species lies in our gait: we are the only primate that has made upright walking our normal way of moving about.
Part of the mission of Future Footwear Foundation is to explore how we walk and run as modern humans. It is clear that the foot plays a crucial role. And with the foot, eventually footwear.
The footwear industry often has negative effects on the environment, with e.g. an average of 4 pairs per person yearly ending up on landfills, and on our body, e.g. restrictive footwear deforms the natural purpose and function. FFF questions if indigenous footwear - crafted and worn in different regions over the world - has similar effect.
Basic morphometrics (such as stature, mass and leg length) and mechanical properties of materials and footwear demonstrate that indigenous footwear in these communities minimizes waste and resembles barefoot walking. Part of the biomechanical analysis is a visual screening of the foot soles of the participants.
A datalog experiment to compare barefoot and shod walking was done to study the kinematics and kinetics.
Samples of the set-up of the plantar pressure plate as part of the gait analysis in Namibia and India are shown below: