Could anyone go faster than Usain Bolt?
Runners like Usain Bolt keep breaking records, but how fast can good old skin and bone ultimately carry us?
Usain Bolt’s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds gives him a top speed of nearly 45km/h. But research published earlier this year suggests our muscles have the power to propel us even more quickly – perhaps as fast as 65km/h.
Physiologists at US universities asked athletes to do some odd things on a treadmill, including running backwards and hopping on one leg. And while it’s typically been assumed that the power in our muscles limits how fast we can run, the tests proved they are much more powerful than once thought. The limiting factor, it now seems, is how quickly the muscles can contract to produce the force. When we run, our foot is only in contact with the ground for a short period of time, so this speed is crucial.