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50-Year-Old Assumptions About Muscle Strength Tossed Aside

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the pump-you-up dept.

Science 57

vinces99 writes "The basics of how a muscle generates power remain the same: Filaments of myosin tugging on filaments of actin shorten, or contract, the muscle – but the power doesn't just come from what's happening straight up and down the length of the muscle, as has been assumed for 50 years. Instead, new research shows that as muscles bulge, the filaments are drawn apart from each other, the myosin tugs at sharper angles over greater distances, and it's that action that deserves credit for half the change in muscle force scientists have been measuring."

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57 comments

the myosin tugs at sharper angles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44247109)

and so does your mother.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44247171)

I don't understand this type of trolling. I mean, what is the point? Are you really that bored?

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (-1, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#44247217)

It worked, the troll got you to respond. You fed it and made it grow.

Shit, so did I.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (5, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 9 months ago | (#44247229)

Don't be too harsh on him. Some of us appreciate the fact that he took the time to read the first line or two and craft a troll comment that demonstrates his awareness of the topic at hand, rather than copy/pasting some cookie-cutter comment that doesn't have an ounce of creativity to it. Handcrafted trolling, particularly the sort that makes use of pre-Internet memes such as "your mother", is a dying art that should be valued in all of its forms.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

noh8rz8 (2716593) | about 9 months ago | (#44247253)

for me, there will only be one true troll ever, and he is HOSTS

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 9 months ago | (#44250423)

for me, there will only be one true troll ever, and he is HOSTS

Then you'll be glad to hear they're back on track to making Twinkies again.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

noh8rz8 (2716593) | about 9 months ago | (#44264657)

why is your lame post modded up while my insightful post gets no love? I said HOSTS not HOSTESS. and twinkies aren't trolls, duh.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

tsadi (576706) | about 9 months ago | (#44247929)

Wow! A post on the art of trolling got a +4 Insightful!

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 9 months ago | (#44250485)

Trust me, you're just as surprised as I am. I just meant it as a quick one-off joke and was expecting to get downmodded for Off-topic if anything.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44251131)

Rule 365: If you wait long enough, *everything* will become SERIOUS BUSINESS.
    -- TheseToesAreMadeForSuckin @ 2003

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44258701)

Even as SERIOUS as Internet Spaceships, which is as SERIOUS as it can ever get.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#44248651)

In the future, when we'll have advanced command line NLP tools, it will be possible to replace a creative troll with a shell script. A very short one.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44248755)

Handcrafted trolling, particularly the sort that makes use of pre-Internet memes such as "your mother", is a dying art that should be valued in all of its forms.

Well then; your mother's sharp angle tugs are the dying art around here.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

Iskender (1040286) | about 9 months ago | (#44252081)

I walked into the library restroom, and as I walked in a young man exited one of the stalls. I could see from his physique that his myelin tended to tug at really sharp angles. I entered the freshly-vacated stall, and there it was: a statue of a naked and petrified Natalie Portman.

I have poured grits down the pants of my greased Yoda doll. Thank you.

Re:the myosin tugs at sharper angles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44247699)

I was bored by what was happening straight up and down the length of the muscle but then your mom started tugging at sharper angles over greater distances...

Hey... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44247211)

You need some help tossing that aside? It's kinds heavy.

Rock anchors (4, Interesting)

justthinkit (954982) | about 9 months ago | (#44247223)

Rock anchors expand into the drill hole and thus secure the rod in place. So with muscles, part of the "strength" is from just not letting go. Also brings to mind that wood fibers are made of two quite different ingredients -- long strong fibers, and good "matrixy" glue.

Simplistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44247539)

The headline (and the puny little "abstract") ignores all other variables than the one with the headline. Then a little slashdotter happily starts to jump up and down, clapping its hands and feet: "Oh new science made, so little did we know".

Re:Simplistic (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44247629)

What variables did the summary miss? As far as I can tell from the article, the summary got the main points.

The article expands and explains what new scientific imaging and measuring tools they used to get these results (including a shout out to cloud computing!), it discusses in more detail how the equations modeling a muscle based on length contractions are still accurate, but they don't capture the whole picture.

But what variables do you think should have been mentioned?

body builders and marathon runners (2)

bdabautcb (1040566) | about 9 months ago | (#44247581)

I read the article, I can't figure out if the writer was quoting him indirectly or if she is stupid. The model was based on moth flight muscle which is similar to human cardiac muscle, which was properly explained. He did say it can lead to new research in cardio and skeletal disease. I feel pedantic and want to know if the reasercher said that or if it is a case of bad editorializing. Don't shoot the messenger, but I guess in a sense that's what I am doing. So feel free to shoot this post if you think I'm stupid.

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44247641)

In standard (boring) writing, you have a topic sentence, followed by supporting sentences. Then you start a new paragraph for a new topic.

I think you could probably get four different paragraphs out of what you wrote there. Five, if you count the title, which isn't related to your actual post.

Re:body builders and marathon runners (1, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#44247743)

In standard (boring) writing, you have a topic sentence, followed by supporting sentences. Then you start a new paragraph for a new topic.

Also, the aforementioned sentences are constructed with words, which start with a letter, followed, or not, by some more. Then you end that word with a space so you can start with the next word.

The exception is that after the last word in the sentence, instead of a space, there's a period.

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

squizzar (1031726) | about 9 months ago | (#44248667)

Is there?

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 9 months ago | (#44248687)

See the dot under the little hook that ends the sentence? What do you think it is? ... ... ...

No, it's not a period, it's a tiny 'o' under a 'q'. But I'm sure I could have convinced you otherwise.

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44248753)

> See the dot under the little hook that ends the sentence? What do you think it is?

It's a tiny planet inhabited by thousands of tiny Whos! Can't you hear them? Put your ear to the screen!

Oh, and don't forget to breathe.

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44258713)

Hey, I see what you did there!

Re:body builders and marathon runners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44254263)

I read the article, I can't figure out if the writer was quoting him indirectly or if she is stupid. The model was based on moth flight muscle which is similar to human cardiac muscle, which was properly explained. He did say it can lead to new research in cardio and skeletal disease. I feel pedantic and want to know if the reasercher said that or if it is a case of bad editorializing. Don't shoot the messenger, but I guess in a sense that's what I am doing. So feel free to shoot this post if you think I'm stupid.

I've read what you wrote three times and I still have no idea what you're trying to say. You probably shouldn't be calling other people stupid until you can learn to write as well as they do. You might find your answer in the actual paper [royalsocie...ishing.org] .

"duh" (3, Funny)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44247617)

Science articulates what millennia of body builders could only say "duh" to.

Re:"duh" (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44247651)

What body builder has ever said that? I can't remember hearing or reading any discuss anything like the article. It's not clear how it relates particularly to body building, either. I tried to figure out how you could use the knowledge from the article to lift more weight, or increase strength, but I can't think of anything.

Do you have anything in mind?

Re:"duh" (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | about 9 months ago | (#44248497)

Come on! Even in the '70s in every clip you could hear Arnold shouting "Ze Myocin tugz at Shahpahh angles!" Of course he was stoned out of his gourd when he said that.

Re:"duh" (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 9 months ago | (#44250017)

Please people. Check your sarcasm detectors as they are malfunctioning. The whole 'bodybuilders have known this for years' thing is simply a cliche. The poster was just going for a laugh, and got you bozos instead.

Re:"duh" (2)

ultranova (717540) | about 9 months ago | (#44253213)

Please people. Check your sarcasm detectors as they are malfunctioning. The whole 'bodybuilders have known this for years' thing is simply a cliche. The poster was just going for a laugh, and got you bozos instead.

Or better yet, dispense with sarcasm and humour entirely. They fill page after page with pointless, misleading banter that adds nothing of value to either the topic under solemn consideration or its posters karma score - which should be proof enough that such levity is unwanted here. This is a highly respected veneral website; a careless joke here could have far-reaching consequences.

Re:"duh" (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44291269)

Please people. Check your sarcasm detectors as they are malfunctioning. The whole 'bodybuilders have known this for years' thing is simply a cliche. The poster was just going for a laugh, and got you bozos instead.

Or better yet, dispense with sarcasm and humour entirely. They fill page after page with pointless, misleading banter that adds nothing of value to either the topic under solemn consideration or its posters karma score - which should be proof enough that such levity is unwanted here. This is a highly respected veneral website; a careless joke here could have far-reaching consequences.

That's what they use to say about dancing and rock n' roll. Just saying. ;)

It's the job of the receptor to receive accordingly. Far-reaching consequences are the fault of other readers/posters and not that of the OP -- me.

Learn how to dance!

Muscles don't contract (2)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about 9 months ago | (#44247947)


So having been extremely bored one day I decided to read http://www.amazon.co.uk/Prime-Mover-Natural-History-Muscle/dp/0393021262/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373528233&sr=8-1&keywords=prime+mover+history+of+muscle [slashdot.org] > this book it covers some interesting bits about how muscle structure was research, dissected and how the muscles work.

Oh yeah, Steven Vogel wrote in the book that muscles do not actually contract, they expand. The muscle does not condense/contract. Space between filaments increased via expansion. It's one of the main reasons that running downhill will cause you far more muscle pain than running uphill...but don;t take my word for it, read his book he explains it all so much better.

I assume the quoted bit uses "contract" as a way to skip delving into muscle mechanics...

Re:Muscles don't contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44251325)

No, you're just an anal-retentive moron.

The whole muscle gets *shorter*; it *pulls*; the bone moves *closer*; the angle gets *smaller*.

It is blatantly obvious that he was talking about the muscle as a whole. What part of that don't you (want to) get?

Damnit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44248233)

I just finished that semester in my Anatomy/Pysiology class. Now I can't be a smartass and tell the professor it's all so terribly wrong.

Some people are tougher than others (3, Interesting)

MetricT (128876) | about 9 months ago | (#44248881)

Muscle power is purely a function of size or volume. Some people's muscle is inherently stronger than others, whether by nature or nurture.

I grew up working in the field, building houses with my dad, and otherwise getting the crap worked out of me from an early age. Went to grad school, and would regularly see the jocks working out at the gym who had much more muscle mass than me, but I could take their max weight, add 20%, and do more reps. I enjoyed watching them boggle at that.

On the flip side, there was a fellow grad student from Eritrea. Scrawny, wiry guy, maybe 140 lbs soaking wet. His bicep/tricep cross-section wasn't much bigger than my wrist. He challenged me to an arm-wrestling contest one day, and instantly and with little exertion pounded my knuckles into the table multiple times until I learned my lesson.

He reminded me somewhat of those stories you hear about Abraham Lincoln and how surprisingly strong he was.

http://www.lincolnportrait.com/physical_man.html [lincolnportrait.com]

Re:Some people are tougher than others (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 9 months ago | (#44249389)

He reminded me somewhat of those stories you hear about Abraham Lincoln and how surprisingly strong he was.

You have to be strong to hunt vampires.

Re:Some people are tougher than others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44249539)

I'm so glad we got to hear how you are moderately wiry but still strong. I don't know what the fuck that has to do with the article though (yes I RTFA), so I just rated you over rated.

Re:Some people are tougher than others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44249909)

Oops. I meant "off topic". Don't add noise to the discussion.

Re:Some people are tougher than others (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44250721)

Muscle power is purely a function of size or volume. Some people's muscle is inherently stronger than others, whether by nature or nurture.

You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Read up on motor unit recruitment.

He challenged me to an arm-wrestling contest one day, and instantly and with little exertion pounded my knuckles into the table multiple times until I learned my lesson.

See above. In addition, he may be fast twitch dominant, and also, most of the guys who love to arm wrestle have technique, where most laymen do not. It's as much about the deltoids as it is the arms.

Re:Some people are tougher than others (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 9 months ago | (#44254999)

Your scrawny friend had what's referred to as neuromuscular strength and it has nothing to do with aerobic conditioning, and yes, it can be trained. Your friend also probably had lots of what's called "fast twitch" muscle fiber. The proportion is somewhat determined by genetics, but can be influenced by training. There are many, many measures of human strength, power, and endurance. There's three energy systems, as well - neuromuscular (1-15 sec efforts), anerobic (few minutes) and aerobic (10min and up.)

Re:Some people are tougher than others (1)

MetricT (128876) | about 9 months ago | (#44255229)

I obviously meant to say "Muscle power *isn't* purely a function of...".

Sharper angles? (1)

Biotech_is_Godzilla (2634385) | about 9 months ago | (#44249149)

What I took from TFA was that it's not the "sharper angles" that add to the power, but the way the fibres stack up as muscles get thicker - greater length of the area where the fibres touch means greater force, as a myosin fibril has lots of 'heads' that provide the force for moving, and where there's too little overlap between actin (the 'inert' structural fibre) and myosin (the active, moving) fibres, only a few heads from one myosin fibre will be able to grip the actin. As they slide towards each other to make the muscle contract, more myosin heads are able to interact with each actin filament at one time and so deliver more power. I'd draw an ASCII diagram, but the junk filters won't let me post it

I'm shocked no one has worked this out until now, but that's the great thing about a lot of discoveries - they look obvious when someone's already made them.

Do not stretch before exercising... (1, Offtopic)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | about 9 months ago | (#44249337)

Want to know the biggest mistake and myth: That you need to stretch before exercising..

Re:Do not stretch before exercising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44249985)

No I don't. Unfortunately I've run out of mod points to mod you off topic.

Re:Do not stretch before exercising... (1)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | about 9 months ago | (#44251515)

They only recommend you do that to prevent you from over-extending and hurting yourself. It's about pushing your muscles to their max constriction in a slow and controlled manner before you do it again with weight, speed, and/or bad form.

Re:Do not stretch before exercising... (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | about 9 months ago | (#44251601)

Right. but when I see people doing 20-30 minute stretches.,,,,please!

Re:Do not stretch before exercising... (1)

zzsmirkzz (974536) | about 9 months ago | (#44253425)

Well, now that's a different story. Unless they are going for improved flexibility (which I'm not sure if it would help) that is completely overblown. Warm-up should be 5-10 minutes, max.

One day it'll occur to them... (1)

John Allsup (987) | about 9 months ago | (#44259385)

That things like physical movement can't be reduced to a simple 'this is the sole mechanism' model.  The body is much more complicated in its dynamics than the average medical textbook makes out, and this is a fact that is well known to anybody with a serious interest in martial arts, dance, or even musical performance (if you took the movements of a typical concert pianist and did the maths to show how the muscle-contraction model explains it, you'd come up against apparent physical impossibilities: and it is not that concert piano playing is impossible, simply that the overly simplistic 'western science' model of musculature and movement is precisely that: overly simplistic, and to a certain extent wrong).
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