Stay On Target: Technology in Sports series.
By Target3D, the Home of Motion Capture, and Leaders in Sport In our fifth feature on technology in sports, Target3D take a look at the impact of human motion analysis software on sports performance.
When Target3D were invited to the Sport Performance Summit at Twickenham, we brought along a runner on a treadmill allowing us to demonstrate in real-time how a motion capture camera system alongside motion analysis software can enhance both an athletes’ performance and a coaches’ insight.
Here we take a deeper look into the software side of things and its impact on the three key areas of performance, training and injury prevention.
The study of the movement of the human body, or biomechanics, has experienced a great boom in recent years, and today scientific literature abounds supporting the fundamental principles that favor the sporting success of each discipline. In other words, we know theoretically what the gesture of the athlete should be to promote an optimal movement. The question is: Is it possible to measure this gesture in the training center or sports lab? How far is the optimal gesture? Here the motion measurement tools come into play, among which 3D optical capture systems undoubtedly take first place. This equipment allows to measure with sub-millimetric precision the movement of the human body in space, and automatically provides countless biomechanical parameters.
One of the key providers of human motion analysis software used by sport scientists, clinicians and researchers are Spain-based STT Systems. We’ve been hearing from them about some of the insight they’ve recently gained from clients responsible for the performance of elite athletes and Olympians.
STT Systems explain, “Success requires the coincidence (stellar alignment, arguably) of multiple factors to a high degree: adequate physical conditions, proper nutrition, an efficient training plan, good equipment and of course the necessary motivation and psychological stability. Strong international regulation has meant many of these factors now have narrow margins, and athletes and technical teams want them to scratch small differences from their opponents. This is the case, for example, with clothing and sports equipment, the characteristics of which are strictly dimensioned and inspected: the design and materials of golf clubs, tennis rackets or bicycles; the textile of swimsuits or the composition of athletics shoes, etc.”
“However, there are and always will be areas in which the athlete can improve steadily if he has the right assistance: it is the sporting gesture and biomechanics. Indeed, the fight is not only about opponents, but also against oneself, in order to optimize performance, reduce the risk of injury and increase, as far as possible, comfort. That is, to achieve higher levels of efficiency.”
STT continues by explaining that Mario Centeno, Head of Biomechanics of the Center of High Performance (CAR) of León and Juan García López, Professor of Biomechanics and Dean of the Faculty of Sports Sciences of the University of León, have been advising top-level figures in Spanish athletics and cycling for years. Among their work routines are already more than settled the "biomechanical tests", in which they control the biomechanical performance of these elite athletes. They have a capture room with 8 cameras capable of capturing 240 FPS (images per second) with a resolution of 1.3 MPx. The cameras along with STT Systems Sports 3DMA motion analysis software monitor, in real-time 3D and without cables, the main biomechanical parameters of the whole body.
Athletes seen through their laboratory at the CAR of León include Alvaro Martín Uriol, 2018 European champion of 20km race walk; Diego García Carrera, current European runner-up in the 20km race walk and Marc Tur, runner-up of Spain’s 50km race walk.
Jesús Angel García Bragado, who has participated in 7 Olympic Games and 13 World Championships is another regular visitor to their Biomechanics Laboratory. Jesús is also a 50 km race walk World Champion so how does he achieve such a long-running sporting career? Logically there is no foolproof formula but athletes like him, with a long sporting career and always on the front line, value another of the great advantages of a full body 3D analysis system: objective evaluation over time, and the correlation of postural changes, performance and injuries.
Mario recounts several examples of practical use of the Sports 3DMA system with one of these athletes: "During a test we realised that his arm swinging range was very short. In addition to instructing you on the desirability of extending the brace movement, we use the 3D system bio-feedback tool. We can monitor the movement of your arms in real time, i.e. while running, and automatically generate a sound alarm if it reaches the desired flexo-extension range. In this way, the athlete more easily practices and internalizes the change of movement. Months later a follow-up test was performed where we observed a much more suitable range of motion, and the athlete stated that he perceived a great technical improvement.”
Coach José Antonio Quintana's training group has been using this service for several years. In principle the study is carried out twice in the season: first an analysis of the progress of each athlete is performed and in the second they are noted if the changes carried out have yielded results. “We know that by modifying certain parameters the athlete improves and that generates confidence, you can risk certain rhythms with greater safety,” he explained. “This technology helps us a lot because our discipline is very technical. It provides information on parameters that influence the gait: dissymmetry, contact losses, forces… and that allows us to improve and avoid injuries."
Target3D’s Biomechanics Specialist provides an overview of the software these coaches and Biomechanics are using; "Sport 3DMA was developed for sport rehabilitation, neurological examination and general biomechanics. The relatively simple workflow allows coaches, sport scientists and biomechanists to look at 3D kinematics. When I demonstrate it for the first time, people are usually impressed with how immediate and how visual the results are. This is what I would call the complete package in terms of its capability to analyse cycling, running, golf swing, gait, vertical jump – essentially a broad range of sports functions.”
“We also offer more tailored software for sport specific coaching and training, so Running 3DMA, Golf 3DMA and Cycling 3DMA are also popular and offer quick labelling, events, graphs and reports.”
Biomechanics and sports coaches are invited to try the full body 3D analysis for themselves at studio and demo space in Central London - get in touch with us to schedule an appointment. Not close to the capital? Speak to us about a virtual demo.