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Walk or Run: Are We Built To Be Lazy? 189

sciencehabit writes "A quick visit to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks shows just how many ways humans (or at least British comedians) can think of to travel from point A to point B. So why don't we high kick our way to the bus stop or skip to the grocery store? New research suggests that there may be a deep biomechanical reason governing the gaits we choose in different situations. In short, people consistently choose to walk when they need to travel slower than 2 m/s to reach their goal in the given time; when they needed to move about 3 m/s or faster, they ran. But in between—in 'the twilight zone between walking and running'—people tended to mix the two gaits, minimizing their energy expenditure. The findings could help scientists design better prosthetic limbs and even build more human-like robots"
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Walk or Run: Are We Built To Be Lazy?

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  • by Vaphell ( 1489021 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @11:13PM (#42746495)

    haven't you overused heels by any chance? not that i am a runner, but people doing barefoot running say it's because heel running skips all the dampening effect provided by foot muscles/tendons+calf and the whole shock goes along the rigid bone straight to the knee. Soft heel in a shoe provides false sense of security but doesn't offset the lack of natural shock absorption.
    If you are barefoot on a hard stone floor, are you able to use heels at all? i know i don't, it fucking hurts and that tells me it's not how it's supposed to be done.

  • by mister2au ( 1707664 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @12:11AM (#42746955)

    Why is it that joint wear only happens to the "exercise" runners?

    Because it is not joint wear but a symptom of prior joint damage.

    Serious runners run within their limits and typically run with good form ... Exercise runners are more prone to 'over-train' relative to their ability and are typically in worse shape than serious runners (eg. more body weight, poorer running form, less conditioning of muscles and ligaments).

    Hence, exercise runners are more prone to do damage that will later develop into osteoarthritis.

    I think there is reasonable evidence that amateurs in most sports have higher injury rates than professionals, despite the professionals undertaking physically more demanding activities.

    Likewise, plenty is evidence that knees (and joint in general) do not just "wear out" as you correctly suggest.

  • by scheme ( 19778 ) on Thursday January 31, 2013 @04:37AM (#42748295)

    I'm pretty sure we're all meant to run a LOT more than we do - and we've forced ourselves to stop due to social pressure.

    Hate to break it to you... but we're not. Humans run worse than just about every vaguely similar sized animal on the planet. The reason that we are the way we are is most definitely not because we can run fast.

    It's up to you whether you run - I hate running personally, but love swimming, football (yes I know that involves running), rowing, tennis (see before). My knees are not cut out for long distances.

    Actually, if you look at the stats, people tend to be the most efficient runners on the planet (with kangaroos coming in second). Although quadrupeds can run faster, they tire out much more quickly as well as overheat. The end result is that over longer distances (45+ km), humans are pretty competitive with animals such as horses. There's actually a hunting technique that's been used called exhaustion hunting, where people chased a deer or whatever until it collapsed from exhaustion and then ran up to it and killed it. It works because running on two legs is more efficient than running on 4 legs and because people have a few adaptations (e.g. hairless skin, etc.) that allow them to get rid of heat more easily.

BLISS is ignorance.