I'm not sure they actually meant to say this but they did:
Sport Science wrote:The most recent study investigating the fascinating dominance of East African distance runners has found that Kenyan athletes have more elastic calf muscles than non-athletic whites.
For what it's worth, here is a summary of their measurements and conclusions.
• The researchers compared ten international level Kenyan runners to 10 non-trained white males, matching them for height. • The participants performed a maximum hopping drill which isolates, to some extent, the contribution made by the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. • They measured various anthropometric outcomes (achilles tendon length, for example), and kinematic outcomes, like power, contact time, and rebound height. • The full list of what was measured in shown the table below, and I've highlighted in yellow the key differences between the Kenyan and white participants.
To summarize, the Kenyans have: • Longer Achilles tendons • Shorter contact times during hopping • Longer flight time• Greater rebound height • Greater jumping powerAll in all, it's a picture of compelling and significant differences between the Kenyan and white athletes, and points towards greater elasticity in the Kenyan calves.
By the way, the writer of the guardian article, Ross Tucker, does a good job of critiqing the work.
What the study is NOT, however, is any kind of proof of what makes Kenyan runners so good compared to European/Caucasian runners.
And herein lies the catch. When performing a comparison between two groups like this, it's very important to know what you have to match. And if you don't match the groups correctly, then the conclusions you reach will be entirely misdirected, and this is what I would suggest is happening in this research study.
To illustrate, the authors make the following conclusion in the paper:
"the Kenyan MG muscle–tendon unit is optimized to favor efficient storage and recoil of elastic energy".
However, you could just as easily have concluded as follows:
"The muscle tendon unit of highly trained, international caliber athletes, is optimized to favor efficient storage and recoil of elastic energy when compared to people who are inactive and untrained"
As Tucker points out, Rupp and Solinksky will probably have elastic calves too. It's hard to imagine how this stuff gets through peer review. Obviously the experiment is interesting, but the controls and conclusions are completely flawed.
Having spent time in graduate programs in a hard science like mathematics and a looser one like education, this reminds me of a lot of research I encountered in the latter. One comes up with a research topic. Then find some evidence that supports it, ignore everything else and voila a Paper to be published. The real problem with fields like sports science is even researchers who do creative and rigorous stuff -- that is, the best of them -- still seem to regularly come to conclusions that they started out with. Even if they are absurd to begin with such as women marathoners eventually running faster than men.
18.99s wrote:Wait a minute ... no comparisons to non-athletic Kenyan males, nor athletic white males? Are they serious? And this crap gets published in a real journal, not just some random blog or The Onion?
...and measuring a non-definable/non-existent parameter "elasticity."
Daisy wrote:For what it's worth, here is a summary of their measurements and conclusions.
• The researchers compared ten international level Kenyan runners to 10 non-trained white males, matching them for height.
That ain't worth squat! Proves nothing. Of course elite TRAINED runners are more athletic than non-trained 'random' people! DUH!
this si the type of rubbish I don't understand, why would somebody investigating something academically make such a useless study it can't possibly elimanate some straight forward and obvious variables. The only genuine conclusion we can draw is trained athletes are more elastic advantages than those who aren't. It's also quite a small sample as well to draw anything genuine. I sometimes find some Psychologists, geneticists and sports scientists a tad race obsessed (despite the fcat you can't really have genuine scientific criteria) and that infulences their work and conclusions, they are so keen to look a differences in race they introduce flaws and extra variables to try and get results that highlight the differences while actually making their work fairly worthless.
I think Psychologists are the worst, a Guardian article a few months ago pointed out at how litter peer reviewed studies are ever able to be repeated with similar results and the number of top psychologists who have been caught fabricating results or have obviously fabricated studies is ridiculous.