INSITE Lab Manager Sherri Dean explaining 3D motion capture and force plate testing to an insole performance test participant.
In honor of National Foot Health Awareness Month, we sat down with INSITE Biomechanics Lab Manager Sherri Dean, BSc to discuss the importance of biomechanics in footwear design.
Sherri received her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Oregon State University-Cascades, where she also interned with the FORCE Lab led by Dr. Christine Pollard. She is now the INSITE lab manager and liaison in our continued partnership with the FORCE Lab.
A: Biomechanics is the study of movement in humans or animals. The word can be broken down into “bio,” meaning life, and “mechanics,” meaning how it works. Simply put, it’s how our muscles, ligaments, and tendons all work together to help us move.
Q: Why are biomechanics vital to a person’s health and wellness?
A: Movement is the key to a healthy body. Incorrect biomechanics can cause injuries that lead to immobility and, in turn, diminished health.
Biomechanics help us in the lab see how shoes affect the way we walk or run. We can study joint movements of the ankles, knees, and hips to see if the shoe promotes positive movement or injury-inducing movement.
Q: How does footwear either help or hurt good biomechanics?
A: Believe it or not, our feet are not as strong as they were thousands of years ago. As our bodies grew used to wearing shoes, the internal structure of our feet weakened over time. Footwear provides the necessary support we need for a proper walking or running gait. Different shoes support different activities and allow our feet to move in their most natural way.
At FORCE Lab preparing a test participant to measure oxygen efficiency.
Q: What makes you passionate about biomechanics?
A: I love getting insight into how the body moves and how to improve our movement. Movement of any kind is the key to excellent physical and mental health. I love knowing that my work is assisting people in improving their health. The data we collect tells a story and I love interpreting that story through the numbers.
Q: What makes the INSITE lab and our partnership with the FORCE lab at OSU-C special?
A: The research we’re doing in the lab pulls together valuable academic and industry research. Dr. Pollard has over 35 years of experience in biomechanics research and her expertise is an invaluable asset to INSITE. Our research not only benefits the footwear industry but also millions of consumers by creating better shoes.
Q: What research and testing methods do the INSITE biomechanics team use to help improve footwear?
A: The INSITE lab uses both objective and subjective research methods. Our objective research methods include 3D motion capture, plantar pressure mapping, EMG tests for muscular efficiency, and other physiological tests.
Our INSITE Standard Comfort Test collects valuable subjective data on how the shoe feels for the participants. This information is then scored, which allows us to quantify qualitative data. We can then compare the subjective data to the objective data to find connections and patterns in how they work together.
Q: If you had to summarize in one statement what people should look for in a shoe for better health, what would it be?
A: Pick the most comfortable shoe that fits like a glove! We take thousands of steps every day with little thought. How our feet meet the ground affects our entire body. Poor shoes that promote bad habits will always catch up to you.
A More Comfortable Tomorrow
INSITE’s biomechanics team is creating more comfortable shoes through data-driven research.