Rarely do we take the time to stop and consider just how complex and amazing our bodies are. It is understandable after all, as the busy world around us can be quite distracting. But the record breaking times set by Usain Bolt this past summer have piqued the interests of scientists in the perceived limits of the human body.
Where once the maximum top speed of a human being was thought to be around 28 mph, a new study suggests that a trained runner could achieve speeds of 40 mph, or perhaps even more. If true, it could mean that human-powered mobility might be more practical than previously thought.
The study, entitled “The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up,” suggests that the human body might be even stronger than it is given credit for. Using a high speed treadmill, the researchers studied the force applied to the foot when running forwards, backwards, and hopping around on one foot. The top speed of a runner was thought to be limited by the amount of force a foot could take when coming in contact with the ground.
What the research found was that hopping around on one foot produced as much as 30% more force than running at full speed forward. They also found that the muscle contractile speeds on the leg set the limit for how fast a human can run, and their research suggests a maximum top speed of 35 to 40 mph.
Obviously only the best trained, most fit people can go even 20 mph or faster. But it certainly makes one wonder about the possibilities. Perhaps as we, as a species, come to better appreciate our bodies, we might figure out a way to get the most out of it and apply that to mass transit or personal transportation.
How cool would it be to be able to run at almost highway speeds though? Pretty cool, I reckon.