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Nature. 2005 Dec 8;438(7069):753-4.

Biomechanics: no force limit on greyhound sprint speed.

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Structure and Motion Laboratory, The Royal Veterinary College, North Mymms, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK.


Maximum running speed is constrained by the speed at which the limbs can be swung forwards and backwards, and by the force they can withstand while in contact with the ground. Humans sprinting around banked bends change the duration of foot contact to spread the time over which the load is applied, thereby keeping the force on their legs constant. We show here that, on entering a tight bend, greyhounds do not change their foot-contact timings, and so have to withstand a 65% increase in limb forces. This supports the idea that greyhounds power locomotion by torque about the hips, so--just as in cycling humans--the muscles that provide the power are mechanically divorced from the structures that support weight.

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