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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Beauty of Human Movement

What can't the body learn to do?

As exercise physiologists we are trained to understand and explain the physiology of human movement. Together with that, how the body can adapt to training stress and improve performance is of great interest to us, and in most cases "performance" means running or cycling or some other endurance sport (save our annual forays into tennis, soccer and rugby).

But it never ceases to amaze us how the body can adapt and learn. Again, mostly we look at how it "learns" to run faster or pace better by making adaptations to the muscular, neuro-muscular system and other physiological systems. The result is beautiful because it is an outstanding performance or a world record or just an amazing race (see the London men's race for all of the above!).

However part of understanding exercise physiology and how the body responds to endurance training is also understanding how the brain controls movement in the first place, because after all exercise is just a complex series controlled movements that produce running or cycling or swimming or anythign else, for example how it can activate the muscles in my hands and fingers in such a manner that I can type this post you are now reading. So any way you slice it, human movement and the adaptations the body makes are amazing on many levels.

I came across an amazing video that illustrates just how amazing the body can be. It is of "trials rider" Danny MacAskill and has been doing the rounds on several blogs and probably forums. The sport consists of riders jumping/leaping/riding in all sorts of manners on and over all kinds of obstacles----really, anything is game. I suspect that anyone who watches, regardless of their background, can appreciate the level of fine and gross control it takes to pull off these kinds of movements.

Call it part of our (belated) birthday celebrations, or call it a positive view of cycling, but from time to time we try to depart from the doom and gloom of doping (especially now in light of the recent CERA postives from Beijing), or the current sporting news cycle, or the performance analyses that you have come to know, and take a lighter look at exercise physiology.

So enjoy the video and hopefully you are inspired by what we can do!



Cheryl said...

It's beautifully produced, too! It just puts you in a good mood watching it. :) Thanks for posting. :)

Duff said...

Wow, thanks Johnathan:
I will no longer think biking to work the same anymore.
Glad you shared that.

Ian Simon said...

Its a great vid, and following on from the week's doping scandals, reassuring that sport can be done for fun, even at the highest level.

Parkour on a bike - who on earth even contemplates trying some of these moves for the first time?

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi everyone, thanks for the comments.

Duff, just don't try of these things on your daily commute!

It is amazing footage by itself, but then you are right Cheryl, the production is spot on and in addition to being cool shots of a guy on a bike it also is a great example of how film can impact us. I must have watched it 20 times in the past two days!

And Ian, you nailed it, when the doping news broke this week I could not bring myself to pick it apart, and so when I saw this one it was just too inspiring not to post.

Enjoy the weekend in your corner of the planet!

Kind Regards,

Unknown said...


Thanks so much for posting this. I finally had an opportunity to show my whole family your blog without them rolling their eyes. Who knew a blog about exercise physiology could be so cool?!

Pierre said...

You are right Jeffrey, please Ross and Jonathan, post some inspirational videos for once in a while, it's cool stuff to have in an amazing blog like yours.

Keep the pace.

Unknown said...

I just watched that twice through and can't stop grinning, awesome!

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi Jeffrey, Pierre, Jen

Jeffrey, I'm glad we make the science fun - we have to do something about that family of yours though!

And Pierre, yes, we definitely have it in mind to post more videos as a means to talk sports science and physiology, so whenever we find them, they'll go up.

thanks for the support, and for reading! Have a great weekend!


Unknown said...

I have seen quite a few similar videos - but this has to be the most impressive!

AthletikSpesifik said...

This video is less about physiological adaptation than skill acquisition, the willingness to fail, and motor development.

Best city biking skills I have ever seen! Awesome find!

UIC Cycling and Triathlon Team said...

Hey Dr. D!

I'm surprised you haven't looked up looked up any fixed gear vids:

Or how about some extreme unicycling:

Or how about the greatest daredevil of the all (Dan Osman):

Nonetheless, love the idea of fav fitness/ex phys related vids!

Keep 'em coming!

PecosPeet said...

That was incredible - even made staying at work so late enjoyable! I love the very last shot with people staring in disbelief over the wall to see where Danny went!

Jess said...

That is my favorite of the year as well. I used it in my blog and watch it over and over again. Anybody know who the song is by? Amazing how it is so inspiring.