Sensors Mag

Shift Your Weight

April 20, 2006 By: Melanie Martella, Sensors

The human body is, no surprise, extremely complicated. The system of opposing muscles enables complicated motions but its very complexity can lead to injuries and problems. Case in point: if you're a runner and you don't have the best possible gait, chances are excellent that you'll end up injured.

Technology to the Rescue!

I was fascinated by a recent article in the North West Arkansas News. The article discusses using motion capture to help pinpoint the causes of injuries and to help optimize whatever physical motion you're trying to optimize.

Central to Motion DNA's method is using sensors to accurately capture data about how the body is moving as it undergoes some task, whether it's standing still, swinging a bat or golf club, or walking. Software compares these data to the expected result if the body were capable of perfectly symmetrical motion, allowing users of the technology to discover where the imbalances lie. In martial arts, for instance, you generally find that kicks with one leg are easier than kicks with the other. Why? Because nobody is perfectly symmetrical and this asymmetry directly affects our body dynamics. We're all subtly out of true.

So why is this cool? Well, mostly because this approach is both clever and useful. While the main applications for this technology have so far focused on physical rehabilitation and sports medicine, it isn't limited to these fields. Nike is apparently working on using this to help runners choose the best shoe to match their running style and gait. How about being able to tell exactly where you're going wrong with a tricky yoga pose? Or, if you tend to have poor posture, what good posture feels like? What about being able to quantify your range of motion both before and after shoulder or knee surgery?

While I hate running, have never golfed, and have so far managed to avoid breaking myself, I love that this exists and that it does what it's supposed to do and does it well. I just hope I never, ever need to use it.

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