PainSci summary of Ahn 2011?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
Why does calf muscle size in humans vary so much? (It really does.) The bulkiness of the calf is an amplified sign of what kind of heel bone you have.
Specifically, Ahn et al. showed that calf size is probably driven by how far the heel bone projects backwards. They studied ten people of similar overall height and weight, lower limb length, and foot length and found that they were divided evenly: half were short-heeled with big-calves, and half had longer calcaneuses and more slender calves. They also looked at the neurology of the muscle recruitment. Folks with short heels and big calves were also using their medial gastrocnemius more than the lateral. So not only were their calves big, but they were pulling harder with the inside half of their gastrocs. By contrast, long-heeled humans appear to have more evenly distributed calf contractions.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
People come in different shapes and sizes. In particular, calf muscle size in humans varies considerably. One possible cause for the different shapes of calf muscles is the inherent difference in neural signals sent to these muscles during walking. In sedentary adults, the variability in neural control of the calf muscles was examined with muscle size, walking kinematics and limb morphometrics. Half the subjects walked while activating their medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles more strongly than their lateral gastrocnemius (LG) muscles during most walking speeds ('MG-biased'). The other subjects walked while activating their MG and LG muscles nearly equally ('unbiased'). Those who walked with an MG-biased recruitment pattern also had thicker MG muscles and shorter heel lengths, or MG muscle moment arms, than unbiased walkers, but were similar in height, weight, lower limb length, foot length, and exhibited similar walking kinematics. The relatively less plastic skeletal system may drive calf muscle size and motor recruitment patterns of walking in humans.
Specifically regarding Ahn 2011:
- A quotation show“Most bloggers have no institutional credibility, and so they must build it, by linking transparently, and allowing you to easily double check their work. But more than anything, because linking sources is such an easy thing to do, and the motivations for avoiding links are so dubious, I’ve detected myself using a new rule of thumb: if you don’t link to primary sources, I just don’t trust you.” (Dr. Ben Goldacre, science journalist, from: http://www.badscience.net/2011/03/why-dont-journalists-link-to-primary-sources/)
One article on PainScience.com cites Ahn 2011 as a source:
- PS Does barefoot running prevent injuries? — A dive into the science so far of barefoot or minimalist “natural” running
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.