More than by brain size or tool-making ability, the human species was set apart from its ancestors by the ability to jog mile after lung-stabbing mile with greater endurance than any other primate.” The introductory quotation (Hotz, 2004) simply, yet vividly, expresses the results of a recent study completed by two American scientists, Dennis Bramble and Daniel Lieberman, and released in the journal Nature(2004). Bramble and Lieberman contend that the ability to run long distances was the driving force shaping the modern human anatomy.”Hotz’s characterization of early humans as marathon men and women from the tips of their distinctively short toes and long Achilles tendons to the tops of their biomechanically balanced heads” (emphasis added) sets the backdrop for this essay—an exploration of the biomechanical differences between male and female marathon runners. After a few additional historical comments, this essay opens with a presentation of anatomical differences between men and women with specific reference to running then continues with definitions and descriptions of the term marathon, as a form of organized running sport, and definitions for the term biomechanics in preparation for a discussion of how the field of biomechanics is applied to running. With this information as a foundation, the objective and scope will be articulated followed by presentation of previous methods and findings revealed from a search of the literature on the topic of biomechanical differences between male and female marathon runners and closely-related topics. These findings will be discussed and conclusions drawn. Finally, recommendations for further research will be presented. To return briefly to the research findings of Bramble, a paleontologist and biomechanics expert, and Lieberman, a physical anthropologist, to continue setting the backdrop for the essay, Bramble states: Running made us human, at least in an anatomical sense. We think running is one of the most transforming events in human history” (Chui, 2004). Endurance running is an activity that is reserved for humans in the primate world and not common in other mammals with the exception of dogs, horses and a few others. Bramble and Lieberman contend that running permitted humans to scavenge and hunt for food over significant distances and that the high protein food they secured was instrumental in developing larger brains (Wilford, 2004). To facilitate running, humans developed several traits including large buttocks with strong muscles which connect the femur to the trunk of the body preventing the body from over-balancing with each step.” In addition, humans have a lengthy arm-swinging stride” and [l]ong ligaments and tendons—including the Achilles tendon—[which] serve as springs that store and release mechanical energy during running.”(Hotz, 2004). Bramble’s reference to today’s running in the evolutionary context he and Lieberman established provides an appropriate introduction to the exploration of the biomechanical differences between male and female marathon runners (Wilford, 2004): Today, endurance running is primarily a form of exercise and recreation, but its roots may be as ancient as the origin of the human genus.”
The description of anatomical differences between men and women,which is focused on anatomical features that are involved in running,begins with a gender-neutral discussion to establish a foundation for the more gender-specific information.
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