Bipedalism, walking and running are characteristics that we tend to take for granted because they are so much a part of human experience. Yet, each of these traits requires a set of inter-related components and information processing machinery. To appreciate this, all we need to do is to reflect on the challenges faced by robot engineers attempting to mimic human behaviour (see also Walking with arthropods). New insights into the physiology of walking are provided in a recent analysis of the heel-sole-toe stance of the human foot. The authors recognise that the morphology and action they are studying is unusual among cursors, and this leads them to make a design inference. The hypothesis is that there are physiological reasons for the design of the human foot (rather than the structure being a spandrel and a witness to evolutionary tinkering).
“While humans have been considered by some as specialized endurance runners, the role – even the presence – of the heelstrike in natural running is controversial. We therefore consider the potential benefits of the peculiar human foot and heel-sole-toe walking strategy from the perspective of the mechanics and physiology of walking.”
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