Archers deformaties

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Honourius III
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Archers deformaties

Post by Honourius III »

Hi All
For some time now I have been puzzling over the physique of the Medieval Archer and whether or not starting to pull heavy bows at an early age caused him problems in later life. There are many deformities heavy excursion at an early age cause, Os Acromile for instance, this occurs in two small bone, on the shoulder that should normally fuse into one as the child becomes more adult. In archers this bone does not fuse due to the excursions of pulling heavy bows. So does that matter? Does it cause problems or pain later in life?
Are any of the other differences Archers have problematical in later life?
Does anyone out there know the answers.

randallmoffett
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by randallmoffett »

I am not sure there are enough archers pulling heavy draw weights to gauge if such hard forces at work on the human body will cause long term pain and issues. There have been several books and article that hit bone deformities of archer on the Mary Rose. The issue we will have is having enough persons about doing this activity who have done it from an early age and still do it that are old enough to get an idea of the long term effects.

An interesting question though. I certainly know enough archers pulling heavy draw weights that have had injuries.

Randall

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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

And some of the deformities often put down to long use of the warbow are equally seen amongst people in the "Third World" who have never seen a "English warbow" but have experienced lives full of hard work and poor diet.
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lucy the tudor
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by lucy the tudor »

Plenty of evidence of long term effects on Mary Rose archers, quite extreme one sided development, and alterations in both bone and tendon attachments exemplified by the shape of the bone on the scapula and surrounding. There was a good lecture about it a few years ago at the society annual lecture series.
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Bittersweet
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by Bittersweet »

Honourius III wrote: So does that matter? Does it cause problems or pain later in life?
Are any of the other differences Archers have problematical in later life?
Does anyone out there know the answers.
I don't suppose the deformity would be any more problematic later in life than earlier. Surely they were capable of general day to day living with this deformity earlier so why not later? As to pain later...did they live long enough for arthritis or something similar to set in? I've no idea either really :^) .
I only pull 60lb but shooting seems to improve my back because it strengthens all my back muscles :D
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Fox
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by Fox »

I recall that on a one of the TV documentaries (I think one of the Mary Rose ones, but I'm not sure) it showed Mark Stretton visiting a doctor, regarding a shoulder injury/deformity that he has, which is consistent with the one attributed to archers in archeological remains.

I don't trust documentary makers, so if someone who knows Mark can confirm the truth of the information, I'd be interested.

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Bittersweet
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by Bittersweet »

Know him second-hand as it were...a friend of a friend of ours. Yes he did and they did lots of investigation. Unfortunately (because the friend had a severe stroke) I don't know the outcome so it's not very helpful of me.
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EnglishArcher
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by EnglishArcher »

Fox wrote:I recall that on a one of the TV documentaries (I think one of the Mary Rose ones, but I'm not sure) it showed Mark Stretton visiting a doctor, regarding a shoulder injury/deformity that he has, which is consistent with the one attributed to archers in archeological remains.

I don't trust documentary makers, so if someone who knows Mark can confirm the truth of the information, I'd be interested.
Mark doesn't suffer from Os Acromiale, basically because he started shooting as an adult, long after the Acromion had fused.

Joseph Gibbs, who has been shooting heavy bows since his teens is probably a better subject of study.

The shoulder injury Mark had is common in heavy bow archers. Basically, part of the rotator cuff, joining the arm to the latisimus dorsi muscles can be damaged, meaning it can't hold the shoulder stable under heavy compressive load. The arm can pop out of its socket. In a milder form this leads to acute pain and instability under loading. I know several archers (including myself) that have suffered from this ailment.


I think it's rather too easy to get hung up on the idea of 'deformity'. Deformity in this case means 'different to the standard'. Just about all professional athletes are 'deformed' in one way or another; and it has little effect on their lives. In fact, just sitting slumped on the sofa can lead to deformity!
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Fox
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by Fox »

EnglishArcher wrote:I think it's rather too easy to get hung up on the idea of 'deformity'. Deformity in this case means 'different to the standard'. Just about all professional athletes are 'deformed' in one way or another; and it has little effect on their lives. In fact, just sitting slumped on the sofa can lead to deformity!
I wasn't being pejorative; more interested in what type of evidence in archeological record might be directly related to the wear and tear we can find in our most experience warbow archers.

While Mark won't have any of the markers caused by using a heavy bow from a very early age, you might expect him to show the ones from repeated use and formation of a particular body type (as you can see in most specialist atheletes).

I think Marcus is right that we have to be careful about how attribute the evidence found in skeletons, so any first person source is valuable.

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EnglishArcher
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by EnglishArcher »

Fox wrote: I wasn't being pejorative; more interested in what type of evidence in archeological record might be directly related to the wear and tear we can find in our most experience warbow archers.
Understood; and not taken that way. :D

As a heavy bow archer myself I'm understandably very interested in the sort of effects this weapon has on my body. Of course, today we have modern physiological understanding to help prevent injuries that medieval archers were lacking. In other words, they may not have known when (or if) to stop.

I think it's a difficult one, because our current heavy bow archers are alive and well (for the most part!) Any damage is likely to be internal, I suspect. So until we can get lots of time with (expensive) MRI scanners I think this will have to stay in the realms of speculation.
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cloudy-cola-corp
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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by cloudy-cola-corp »

I've shot with a bow since i was 7 and i have to say that i can visibly see (and feel at times) a difference in my right and left shoulder its not drastically huge differences but i don't shoot the draw weights that some people do. because one of the people i used to shoot with, said "that large draw weights cause serious problems at young ages because the cartilage that protects the socket is damaged and as you start to reach 12-16 it doesn't fuse properly so only partially protects the joint and the un-fused bit is worn off and also it changes the shape of the bones of the upper right arm and left wrist and shoulders". (he was a retired doctor so I'm sure that i got a very basic explanation)

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Re: Archers deformaties

Post by JC Milwr »

Eric (Bool) has definitely wonky collarbones due (he believes) to shooting for so long; he started at 11. If you need first hand evidence, he will probably let you poke his shoulders :)
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