This thesis presents and evaluates a number of finite element footstrike models developed to
allow the performance of prospective athletic footwear designs to be evaluated in a virtual
environment. Successful implementation of such models would reduce the industry’s
traditional reliance on physical prototyping and therefore reduce the time and associated costs
required to develop a product.
All boundary conditions defined in each of the footstrike models reported were directly
determined from biomechanical motion capture trials to ensure that the loading applied was
representative of shod human running. Similarly, the results obtained with each model were
compared to digitised high speed video footage of experimental trials and validated against
biomechanical measures such as foot segment kinematics, ground reaction force and centre of
A simple model loaded with triaxial force profiles determined from the analysis of plantar
pressure data was found to be capable of applying highly representative load magnitudes but
the distribution of applied loading was found to be less accurate. Greater success at emulating
the deformation that occurs in the footwear during an entire running footstrike was achieved
with models employing kinematic foot segment boundary conditions although this approach
was found to be highly sensitive to the initial orientation of the foot and footwear
components, thus limiting the predictive capacity of such a methodology. A subsequent model
was therefore developed to utilise exclusively kinetic load conditions determined from an
inverse dynamic analysis of an experimental trial and demonstrated the greatest predictive
capacity of all reported models. This was because the kinematics of the foot were allowed to
adapt to the footwear conditions defined in the analysis with this approach.
Finally, the reported finite element footstrike models were integrated with automated product
optimisation techniques. A topology optimisation approach was first utilised to generate
lightweight midsole components optimised for subject‐specific loading conditions whilst a
similar shape optimisation methodology was subsequently used to refine the geometry of a
novel footwear design in order to minimise the peak material strains predicted.
This is a redacted version of the Thesis: for more information please contact the author. A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.