Last year at the BSMPG I met Shon Grosse for the first time and we talked about foot mechanics in relation to injuries. Technology is starting to compliment what we are doing in both training and therapy. A lot of national teams and olympic training facilities are starting to get into pressure mapping for evaluating how forces are created instead of just looking at output. Wattage is an important metric in exploring power, but the way one creates power is important to injury reduction. I was first exposed to pressure mapping with RSscan’s work in Europe, but it wasn’t until I saw the in-shoe systems from Novell and Tekscan that I was starting to piece the importance of real mechanics. A wonderful case study on a Triple Jumper was shared on how pressure mapping and video analysis can really validate asymmetries and possible dysfunctions. The information collected was from pressure mapping, sensors that indicated precise loading parameters and location. This technology is not new, but now it’s getting more consumer friendly and we are able to find relationships with both gait and more static activities.
I will get into gait analysis on another post, but pressure mapping for platforms is going to be happening between 2-3 years. One coach was very proud of the logos on his wood platforms, but I am more impressed with organizations that drop the wood and use materials that capture information. Put the logo on the wall but put the sensors on the ground and platforms please. The interns will like me since they don’t have to wax as much! So what is happening with elite sport and pressure mapping?
Integrated Assessments- Let’s say one does an overhead squat and is visually symmetrical? Are they really? The first experience with the FMS in the late 1990s an athlete had a beautiful overhead squat coming from a olympic lifting based program but had many injuries on one side. We used a very dated EMG system and found a lot of asymmetries with muscle recruitment but his mobility fooled the tests. Pressure mapping identifies a lot of gross pressure measures such as right and left pressure and front and back pressure through the feet. Recruitment of the body stems from ground contact kinetics and biomechanics up through the feet. Simply doing normal assessments with this technology adds more information without adding more testing. My rule of data collection is that it can’t interfere with the therapy or coaching, so we need to get more information from tests or training, not add more tests to training or therapy. We only have so much time. Posture can be be included by seeing how static and dynamic assessments correlate.
Power and Pressure Analysis- Tendo units are limited and don’t’ tell the whole story. Getting wattage of various lifts is not magic, and I am more impressed with getting the information of how the wattage is created. For example we know we are working power during the olympic lifts, does the wattage indicate more information than the video analysis of distance and time? Not really. Would it be interesting to find out how they created it, especially if one side is weaker or using different firing patterns? Yes. Combining Dartfish and Gymaware is fare more enlightening if pressure mapping is involved. Gymaware can upload the data while Dartfish can follow the motion of the bar trajectory. Pressure mapping confirms and cross-validates the other data, such as posture and other power tests.
Return to Play Benchmarking- Proprioception is important, but measuring it is often difficult. Some professional teams want to see the proprioception of balance and strength without vision to ensure the body is close to baseline levels. How well the body responds to feedback from the neuromuscular system without visual adjustment is a quick and simple way to see how the body is responding to magic single leg work and how fatigue may reduce stabilizer recruitment timing. Just doing single leg hops with Optogait and Pressure mapping one can get a huge amount of objective data while calibrating the coaches to see what is good or dysfunctional.