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Do unnatural sports (such as race-walking) cause permanentinjuries?

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  • Do unnatural sports (such as race-walking) cause permanentinjuries?

    In the Sydney 2000 Olympics all three of the leaders in the women's
    speed-walk (Hongyu Liu of China, Elisabetta Perrone of Italy and Jane
    Saville of Australia) were disqualified in the last kilometre of the 20K

    Horror of horrors; some of them slipped into a natural mode of
    ambulation such as jogging or running! They were disqualified because in
    race walking some part of the foot must be in contact with the ground at
    all times.

    There are a number of sports where unnatural movements are not merely
    permitted but are actually compulsory. For instance in horse racing
    there is a sport known as "harness-racing" or "trotting" where the
    horses are not allowed to break into a gallop.

    In the past dangerous events like the "equestrian high jump" were
    eventually banned from the Olympics. Cricket also ceased to be an
    Olympic sport (is bowling too unnatural when compared to shot putting?).
    Does anyone know what the criteria for the bans were? Was it because of
    the risks involved or was it sheer lack of interest?

    At the time of the Sydney 2000 Olympics there was talk of the fact that
    race walking ("speed walking") can damage the hips. I have often
    wondered how severe these alleged injuries can be; do they cause
    permanent damage?

    Has anyone published a review of the injurious effects of sports that
    permit or encourage unnatural movements and actions?


    David McFarlane
    Ergonomist, WorkCover Authority
    New South Wales, Australia

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