By: 01.23.10  •  2 Comments

Scientists from SMU, Rice, and the University of Wyoming have discovered that humans have potential to run at a rate exceeding 35-40+ MILES PER HOUR.  They were inspired by Usain Bolt’s near-28 mph achievements to see just how far the human body could be pushed.

“If one considers that elite sprinters can apply peak forces of 800 to 1,000 pounds with a single limb during each sprinting step, it’s easy to believe that runners are probably operating at or near the force limits of their muscles and limbs,” he said. “However, our new data clearly show that this is not the case. Despite how large the running forces can be, we found that the limbs are capable of applying much greater ground forces than those present during top-speed forward running.” …

According to Matthew Bundle, an assistant professor of biomechanics at the University of Wyoming, “The very close agreement in the briefest periods of foot-ground contact at top speed in these two very different gaits points to a biological limit on how quickly the active muscle fibers can generate the forces necessary to get the runner back up off the ground during each step.”

The researchers said the new work shows that running speed limits are set by the contractile speed limits of the muscle fibers themselves, with fiber contractile speeds setting the limit on how quickly the runner’s limb can apply force to the running surface.–Science Daily

But why?  Why do people need to run this fast or push themselves to these limits?  As far as the article is concerned, they present no predictions of long-term effects on the human body.  Athletes today operate under great amounts of pressure to perform at higher and higher levels.  The stress they put on their bodies is great, and can even be fatal.  At what point is it too much?  They endure massive amounts of training, and even resort to steroids and HGH, in order to achieve peak physical fitness and ultimately peak performance.  However, this can be a bit myopic and the long-term effects are far greater than the short term results.  Is it worth it?  Maybe pushing the human limits and enduring all of the pain is part of the evolution and innovation process, but at what cost?

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