Have you ever timed your mile run and thought afterwards, “man, I wish I could run faster”? Or have you ever gone hiking and thought to yourself, “man, why am I gasping for air already?” Don’t worry, these are thoughts people commonly have, and it’s natural to question the limits of one’s performance ability. But what if I told you that it’s possible to improve performance without training?
According to researchers at Harvard University, wearing a tethered exosuit can reduce the metabolic cost of running by up to 5.4%. In other words, the body uses fewer resources to perform the same action. Dr. Giuk Lee and his team of researchers conducted an experiment in which subjects ran on a treadmill while wearing an exosuit with wires attached to the hip area. This allowed extra force to be applied to the legs at a slightly later time than normal running. Lee discovered that, despite this deviation from natural running, wearing the exosuit showed a drop in metabolic usage. A major reason for this is that the slight adjustment in force improved efficiency by affecting mobile joints such as the knee.
Lee and his team hope to further their research in improving athletic performance by continuing to tinker with the process of natural running. They now know to examine individual joints involved in running, and with this in mind, they want to create an untethered exosuit that optimally improves performance and may even help with injury recovery.
Lee’s study is a classic example of thinking “outside of the box” to make improvements. Despite evolution shaping human running into an efficient process, it may not always be the most optimal and can certainly be even more efficient. With the exosuit, future runners may thank researchers like Lee who thought to improve running in an innovative way; however, doing it the old-fashioned way with training and dedication can suffice as well.
Feature Image Source: “Metal Hunter”. August, 2014. byRebecca Ashbourne