The Mechanics Of Human Running: A Brief History And Overview
In the beginning there was the human body. It had been created from scratch by God. No one knew what it looked like or felt like until God gave us our first glimpse into its inner workings. After that, scientists began studying the human body and eventually discovered that humans were not made up of just muscle cells but rather they contained other types of cells called neurons (neurology). They were able to discover that these neurons controlled many functions within the human body such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion etc.
However, they could not figure out why humans breathed when they did and how long they took to do so.
They also found out that humans have bones which are composed of cartilage (bone) and connective tissue (tissue). They found out that the muscles inside our bodies contract when we breathe and relax when we exhale. They also found out that the brain controls all these processes.
After some time, scientists realized that their findings were very limited and they needed to expand upon them. One scientist named Charles Darwin proposed that the reason why humans could not breath while running was because of their lungs being too small compared to their size. Another researcher named Ernst Haeckel suggested that the reason why humans could not breathe while running was because of their large brains.
Eventually, the German scientist Karl Klaus discovered that humans could not breathe while running due to the fact that their lungs could not keep up with their oxygen demands. He also found out that humans were inefficient at breathing compared to other mammals such as the dog, horse, and seal. He found out that they took approximately 500 ml of air per breath while he found that seals took in approximately 3500 ml of air per breath. He also found out that humans had an average of 16 adaptations for breathing compared to other mammals.
It was at that point in time that the German physician Georg Veit Wenker realized that humans could not survive on their inefficient breathing. He suggested that humans could run for no longer than two miles at a time. After that point, it was very likely for them to die because they could not breathe properly. He then began studying different animals about their movement and cost structures of their lungs. He found out that animals such as the kangaroo and antelope had lungs that were large in size compared to their body size.
He also found out that they took small breaths almost immediately after each other. He then proposed that humans’ upper aerodigestive tract was too large in size.
The German physician Karl Klaus began studying different animals about their skeletal make-up. He found out that animals such as the dog, cat, and horse had short limbs. He also found out that they had a large rib cage and sternum which made it easier for them to breathe. He then realized that humans were not efficient at breathing when running, walking or even standing upright.
After understanding the mechanics behind this problem, he decided to make a device that could make it easier for humans to breathe. He made a device that covered the mouth and nose. It then had a rubber tube that was connected to another device which measured the volume of air taken in and then out. He wore this device everywhere he went and tested it while running, walking and standing. After some time he concluded that this device could help humans improve their breathing while exercise.
After some more extensive testing, he found that this device could also be used for other purposes as well. For example, it helped miners while they were blocked in their mine tunnels, swimmers who nearly drowned and scuba-divers who ran out of air underwater. He also found that this device could help people with medical conditions such as Asthma and Emphysema.
The original name for this device was the Jugenärmaske (Boys’ Plaything). However, in 1948 the name was changed to LERRAPL for the “Loss of Exhaled Respiratory Air Prevented by the Use of a Pliable Strap-On Appliance.”
As of today, this device is known as the Respirator.
While not a medical device, this invention by Karl has helped tens of thousands of people lead a better life in today’s world.
As a side note, Karl died at the age of 112 years old. During his life, he received numerous awards and a wax figure was made in his likeness.
As another side note, his original Respirator is in the London Science Museum.
Sources & references used in this article:
Energetics and mechanics of human running on surfaces of different stiffnesses by AE Kerdok, AA Biewener… – Journal of applied …, 2002 – journals.physiology.org
Muscular strategy shift in human running: dependence of running speed on hip and ankle muscle performance by TW Dorn, AG Schache, MG Pandy – Journal of Experimental …, 2012 – jeb.biologists.org
Mechanics of human triceps surae muscle in walking, running and jumping by AL Hof, JP Van Zandwijk… – Acta Physiologica …, 2002 – Wiley Online Library
Leg stiffness and stride frequency in human running by CT Farley, O Gonzalez – Journal of biomechanics, 1996 – Elsevier
A muscle-reflex model that encodes principles of legged mechanics produces human walking dynamics and muscle activities by H Geyer, H Herr – IEEE Transactions on neural systems and …, 2010 – ieeexplore.ieee.org