Body Size and Movement

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Humans of different sizes move in very similar ways despite the size difference. The principles of geometric scaling provide insight into the reasons for the similar movement patterns observed. In human locomotion, body size influences endurance running performance, with shorter body sizes being an advantage due to better heat exchange compared with their taller counterparts. Scaling can also show the equivalence of child gait with that of adults in terms of stride length and walking velocity. In humans, maximum jump height is independent of standing height, a scaling result which has been validated by examining jumps with mass added to the body. Finally, strength scales in proportion to body mass to the two-thirds power, which explains why shorter people have greater relative body strength compared with taller individuals. Geometric scaling reveals the underlying principles of many human movement forms.

Challis is with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

Address author correspondence to John H. Challis at jhc10@psu.edu.
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