Sports Science

Triathletes participate in a grueling endurance sport - in the Olympic version, it means swimming about 1 mile, bicycling 40 miles and then running 6.2 miles. Those in the Ironman version get even more extreme, a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and then running a full marathon, 26.2 miles.

Clearly, in both training and competition, they regularly push their bodies beyond the limits most of us can endure. There is no doubt that triathletes are tougher than most people, the mystery is why.


After 12 weeks of strength training, people over the age of 90 improved not only their strength, power and muscle mass, but also showed  an improvement in their balance, their walking speed and developed a greater capacity to get out of their chairs, according to new study.


Researchers studying how oxidative stress in cells impacts sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs in all humans as they age, found that mice lacking a protective antioxidant protein did not have reduced size or number of muscles cells but they were weaker than normal ones.

The antioxidant protein is called SOD1 and the researchers developed mice that did not have SOD1 in their muscles, though it was still present in other types of cells. They found that the lack of SOD1 at the muscle was not enough to cause atrophy, the total muscle mass in this mouse was larger, but they were still weak.


What's the diet for a high performance athlete? Despite the cultural pendulum of fad diets swinging back toward fat, high fiber, low-fat foods balanced with a training regimen remains the best way to maintain muscle while burning fat.


Baseball players who have undergone ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) surgery have able to return to the same or higher level of competition for an extended period of time, according to results presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Chicago. 


The basics of how a muscle generates power are this: Filaments of myosin tugging on filaments of actin shorten, or contract, the muscle. Since the 1950s physiologists have had a formula – the length-tension curve – that accurately describes the force a muscle exerts at all points from fully outstretched, when every weight lifter knows there is little strength, to the middle points that display the greatest force, to the completely shortened muscle when, again, strength is minimized.

The assumption for 50 years has been that the power comes primarily from what's happening straight up and down the length of the muscle.


Max Scherzer, a 6-foot, 3-inch tall pitcher leads Major League Baseball in wins. He hasn't lost a game for the Detroit Tigers this season.

He is example of Constructal-law Theory, said Duke University engineer Adrian Bejan. Constructal-law Theory predicts that elite pitchers will continue to be taller and thus throw faster and seems also to apply to athletes who compete in golf, hockey and boxing.

Studying athletes  gives insight into the biological evolution of human design in nature because sports are meticulous about keeping statistics. The biological evolution of human design in nature is what Bejan terms the Constructal-law Theory, which is really a hypothesis but using Theory as a proper name is all the rage.


Some elite track and field athletes peak young, under the age of 20, while others peak later - but only a small fraction of star junior athletes had similar success as senior athletes.

An Indiana University analysis compared the performance of elite track and field athletes and conclude that physical maturation is behind the disparity, with athletes who mature early reaping the benefits early, seeing their best times, jumps and throws at a younger age than Olympians, many of whom mature later. 


Hockey moves fast. As efforts to track the puck visually showed, it can be dizzying to keep track of things in a small field of view like a television.

Analyzing games and plays means manual work, for that reason. But Disney Research, located in Pittsburgh and Zurich, have developed an automated technique for analyzing the patterns of play of field hockey teams, providing a new tool for coaches and commentators who must make sense of mountains of video and other game data. 


If you can scorch a baseball over the mound, you can thank extinct ancestors.

That's not to say that, despite what an evolutionary psychologist might contend, our ability to throw fast and accurately evolved so our ancestors could play ball better and therefore get more dates.

Instead, this ability first evolved nearly 2 million years ago -  humans are unique in our throwing ability -  to aid in hunting.