... Website_banner_rotated
Photo credit: Alan M. Wilson

Insights from human physiological performance in unusual conditions

Federico Formenti

King’s Collge London, UK

Humans have developed tools and strategies to improve locomotion performance and safety throughout history. In particular, unusual environmental conditions and danger pushed the limits of imagination and initiative, laying the foundations for the development of several tools to enhance locomotion. I will present an overview of our studies on the energetics of human locomotion on snow and ice with a historical perspective, in Nepalese porters, and in Medieval armour.Environmental conditions challenge our locomotor performance: steep mountain paths and snow on the ground increase the metabolic cost of walking, ice increases the risk of falls, and fighting in the Medieval battlefield required protection. In these conditions, humans evolved and developed tools and strategies to improve their locomotor performance and safety, typically trading-off between an increase in the weight to be carried, and a reduction in the metabolic cost of locomotion and/or an increase in safety. Materials engineering and empirical understanding of muscle and locomotion biomechanics aided the performance improvement. In addition, environmental and even genetic changes contributed to a superior physiological performance in different circumstances.

I will present and discuss our findings integrating biomechanics and energetics of locomotion. Overall, the thought-provoking historical perspective of our work helps to hypothesise some of the current technological and technical limitations to human physiological performance, and highlights how improving the latter may well require a widely multidisciplinary approach.





Click below to return to the Programme

Integrating Biomechanics, Energetics and Ecology in Locomotion

Click below to return to the symposium home page

Sponsored by:


Visit our journal websites

Development Journal of Cell Science The Journal of Experimental Biology Disease Models & Mechanisms Biology Open

© 2024 The Company of Biologists Ltd | Registered Charity 277992
Registered in England and Wales | Company Limited by Guarantee No 514735
Registered office: Bidder Building, Station Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LF, UK