Karen is a postdoctoral research fellow within the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL). Her research is located in the Gait, Balance and Falls group within ISEAL’s Clinical Exercise Science Research program.

Karen is a biomechanist who gained her PhD in 2011 from the University of Wollongong. Karen was awarded a prestigious postdoctoral training fellowship (2011-14) from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Karen’s research over the past 10+ years has focused on applied lower limb biomechanics with a specific interest in structure and function of the foot and the influence of musculoskeletal and metabolic pathologies.

During her NHMRC fellowship, Karen spent two years at the University of Salford, UK. Here she developed a reliable method to measure foot muscle morphology using ultrasound.

Karen has published 20 original research articles and three book chapters. She has 40 conference papers at national and international scientific meetings, including the Clinical Biomechanics Award address at the 2009 International Society of Biomechanics Congress, and Invited Speaker presentations at the World Congress of Biomechanics in 2010 and 2014.

Her current research aims to determine the pathomechanics of muscle weakness in individuals who have foot problems, and to develop evidence-based intervention strategies to restore foot function in people with foot disorders.


Selected recent refereed journal articles

Mickle KJ, Caputi P, Potter J & Steele JR (2016). Efficacy of a progressive resistance exercise program to increase toe flexor strength in older people, Clinical Biomechanics. 40:14-19. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2016.10.005.

Mickle KJ, Angin S, Crofts G, & Nester CJ (2016). Effects of Age on Strength and Morphology of Toe Flexor Muscles, Journal of Orthopaedics and Sports Physical Therapy. 46(12):1065-1070.

Mickle, K.J. and Steele, J.R. (2015), Obese older adults suffer foot pain and functional impairment: A cross-sectional analysis of foot structure and function in older adults. Gait & Posture. In print (doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.07.013).

Mickle, K.J., Nester, C.J., Crofts, G. and Steele, J.R. (2013), Reliability of ultrasound to measure morphology of the toe flexor muscles. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 6:12.

Mickle, K.J., Munro, B.J., Lord, S.R., Menz, H.B. and Steele, J.R. (2011), Cross-sectional analysis of foot function, functional ability, and health related quality of life in older people with foot pain. Arthritis Care & Research, 63:1592-1598.

Refereed book chapters

Steele JR, Mickle KJ & Whitting JW (2016). Injuries Associated with Military Static-line Parachuting Landings. In Geffin A, & Epstein Y, (eds), The Mechanobiology and Mechanophysiology of Military-Related Injuries. Series: Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials. Springer International Publishing, 19:37-68. DOI 10.1007/8415_2015_184

Steele, J.R., Riddiford-Harland, D.L. and Mickle, K.J. (2015), Excessive weight bearing compromises foot structure and function across the lifespan. In The Mechanobiology of Obesity and Related Diseases (edited by. Geffin A, & Benayahu D.); Series: Studies in Mechanobiology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials. Springer International Publishing, 16: 149-179.

Conference presentations

Mickle KJ (2016). Toe deformities increase the risk of falls in older people. Australian Podiatry Association NSW & ACT State Conference, May 28-30, Sydney.

Mickle, K.J. (2015), Using ultrasound to investigate sarcopenia in foot muscles. Sports Medicine Australia Conference, October 21-24, Gold Coast.

Mickle, K.J. (2014), Can footwear interventions produce foot muscle adaptations in older people? 7th World Congress of Biomechanics, August 6-10, Boston, USA.

Mickle, K.J., Munro, B.J., Lord, S.R., Menz, H.B. and Steele, J.R. (2010), Falls in older people: Are shoes a culprit or an innocent bystander? 6th World Congress of Biomechanics, August 1-6, Singapore; p 55.

Mickle, K.J., Munro, B.J., Lord, S., Menz, H.B. and Steele, J.R. (2009), Are toe weakness and deformity associated with falls in older people? XXII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics. Cape Town, South Africa, July 5-9, Abstract 271 (ISB Clinical Biomechanics Award).

Teaching responsibilities


AHE3101 Advanced Biomechanics


Karen is currently supervising 2 Honours students and 2 PhD students.

Research grants

Mickle K, Begg R & Ogrin R (2016). Evaluating a foot strengthening exercise program to improve foot function and foot health in older adults with diabetes. VU Central Research Grant Scheme, $19,634

Mattock, J., Mickle, K. and Steele, J. (2015), Characterisation of lower leg muscle morphology and function: Implications for medial tibial stress syndrome. Australian Podiatry Education and Research Foundation grant ($5,000).

Okely, A. et al. (KM Associate Investigator) (2014), Promoting physical activity among young children from disadvantaged communities. NHMRC Project Grant ($1,064,324).

Mickle, K. and Steele, J. (2013), Retraining foot muscles to restore foot function and prevent falls in older people. Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute ($25,000).

Professional memberships

Areas of expertise

  • Foot structure and function
  • Footwear biomechanics
  • Lower limb biomechanics
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound

Contact details

+61 (3) 9919 5611