Flintoff vs Usain Bolt

26 01 2010

On a new topic altogether, the Compulsive Hooker would like to draw your attention to an article we came across in the Daily Telegraph today.

According to the latest research it is biologically possible for a man to run at speeds approaching 40 miles an hour. Usain Bolt achieved a measly 28 miles an hour in his world record run last year so this puts it in perspective. These speeds would mean a 100 metre race being over in 6.7 seconds…. Blink and you’ll miss it stuff!

Apparently one of the main reasons why experts used to believe that humans had already approached the boundaries of nature with sub 10 second runs, was that that the force going through the leg was already at its upper limits. Part of the testing which disproved this theory included measuring the force put through the leg of some one hopping and this was of course substantially more. From this, they worked out at what speeds this force would occur in sprinting and have arrived at the 40 mile an hour mark.

Now perhaps we are being silly, but surely this is obviously not the reason why Bolt et al are running at 28 miles and hour not 40.  Any cricketer will be aware that fast bowlers put substantial pressure through their knee during their delivery stride on a daily basis. Flintoff, is a fine example of someone who had knee problems through out his career for this reason and when watching him from side on it is clear that extraordinary force is going through the knee joint at this point. Convert this into sprinting speed and these scientists would probably find Flintoff should be able to sprint faster than a Cheetah! Mind you the study was conducted by the University of Wyoming which explains why they might not have considered test fast bowlers in cricket.

The scientists then round it off by saying their work showed that running speed limits were caused by how quickly the muscle fibres can work rather than a limit on the force that can be put through the knees, which to us sounds like a much more sensible reason. Elite long jumpers are others who during take off and landing clearly exert more force than a sprinter but obviously this evaded the scientists….

We actually started reading this article thinking ‘that’s interesting’ but by the end finished on this note you see before you! Maybe its the repetitive nature of sprinting or something and no doubt I have hugely over simplified matters, but it seems like a bit of non-science to us!

Full article can be found here.

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