Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
In an article published by Sceptics Book: http://scepticsbook.com/2011/01/25/4982/ . The author describes a recent study by chiropractors in the UK conducting a study to prove whether Power Balance actually improves balance. The researchers examined balance when not wearing a band, wearing a placebo band with steel inserts of the same weight and size, and the Power Balance band. Ultimately there were no differences in balance between all the test conditions:
“We saw no difference in people’s balance whether they were using the wristband, wearing a placebo or wearing no wristband at all,” study showed Chief investigator, Dr Simon Brice.
For more information please read the article in Sceptics Book.
Article by Bryan Roberts
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
This weekend at the NFL combine 10-30 athletes unveiled UnderArmour’s new compression garment with an integrated electronics system. The NFL combine is an athletic showcase for the top college football prospects to put their physical skills on display for the all the professional teams. The UA E39 shirt contains a removable sensor pack near the sternum and can give an athlete or coach instant feedback on breathing rate, heart rate, temperature, and movements. The sensor pack, nicknamed ‘the bug,’ contains a triaxial accelerometer developed in conjunction with a Maryland company called Zephyr. The system measures acceleration and change of direction. This can be used to dissect a player’s performance during running or explosion exercises.
The data can be transmitted to wireless devices such as laptops, iPhones, or iPads. The company will roll the garment out slowly starting with UA sponsored athletes and teams with a projected public release in 2012.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
The Japan-UK sports technology conference held last week was so interesting that it would be a shame not to write an article about the science and technology presented. This article will detail the great work by two great brands who in my opinion are at the top of their game. At the moment, I would even rate them in my top 5 of scientific sports companies dedicated to their particular niche.
Two of the senior product development team from Mizuno and Asics presented to the large crowd of sports technology experts across the UK. Dr Takeshi Naruo (Mizuno) and Dr. Tsuyoshi Nishiwaki (Asics) were very well versed in English, which always puts me to shame, and explained their innovations centres in Japan, their relationships with Universities, their development process and pathways to market. Both gentlemen were extremely interesting and the technological development into every sports product sold was impressive.
Dr Naruo (Mizuno) started. Mizuno have over 2000 employees world-wide working on the development process of Mizuno products which are housed in their own sports technology institute and employees of Mizuno believe in the SOZO principle; SOZO stands for creativity and imagination in Japanese.
Dr Naruo began with an explanation of the development of their trademark shoe design; the Mizuno Wave. Mizuno recognised that there was a conflict of interest in providing a soft mid-sole to provide cushioning and a hard mid-sole for stability. They developed FEA (finitie element analysis) models verfied through lab experiments of various mid-sole designs and developed the Mizuno Wave. The natural shape fo the Mizuno Wave reduces impact forces whilst providing stability. The newest version, called the Infinity Wave, was tested over 170,000 times in a fatique repeated-impact test. A weight, representing a foot-strike, was impacted on the mid-sole to ensure great durability.
Dr Naruo, also spoke about custom-built force sensors on the foot, but moved swiftly onto the development of their golf clubs, apparel and balls. Yes, balls! Mizuno have been selling balls in Japan since 2005. Their unique “cross-eight” golf ball is unique in its core and mantle structure as you can see in the image below. The most interesting part of their golf research was a skin surface strain map during movement. This shows areas of high-strain from which we can increase movement through careful garment design. They term this Bio-Gear and DFCut (Dynamic Function Cut), see image below.
Dr Naruo, wrapped up his presentation with details on the new Mizuno Shaft Optimizer for amateurs golfers like me to understanding shaft speed, flex and consequently ball trajectory.
The lecture swifty moved to the technology developments by Japan’s other major sports brands – Asics. Dr Nishiwaki introduced the Institute of Sports Sciences with its 80+ researchers solely dedicated to the development of shoes and associated products. Asics stand by their motto: “Sound Mind in a Sound Body” showing that their technologies are focussed on the holistic running experience and not solely the feet.
Asics believe there are 8 key components to sports shoe design: cushioning, stability, flexibility, fit, grip, breathability, (light)weight and durability. All of their innovations must satisfy each of the components above and pass stringent standards set by the company.
Asics latest innovation is the “Guidlance line” set along the sole to guide the foot into a natural running position.
In the lecture we were shown many tests to develop this and other technologies including live strain analysis, as shown in the video below and mid-sole material testing to pass durability standards.
Overall, the lecture was very interesting and engaging. The focus of the meet was to develop relationships between UK research bodies and Japanese sports companies/ brands. Hopefully, the good few days that followed formed good and long-lasting relationships.
Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Just a simple post showing the elegant yet dynamic Adidas Speedcell for the Women’s World Cup. The ball has the same features as the Jubalani so little more need to be said. Want more pictures? View the full article at footballshirtculture.com:
Monday, December 6th, 2010
All of us remember the feeling of jumping into an ice bath immediately after sport; sudden chill that runs up the spine, slight burning on the skin, shivering the whole time and then getting out dripping wet. It isn’t a nice experience so sports technologists and designers have been developing the method of cold treatment to the point that the experience can now feel slightly enjoyable. Just look at this photo of Jermaine Defoe, he positively looks happy! (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1335496/How-hot-Spurs-stay-cool-Rafael-van-der-Vaart-finds-ice-easy-way-recover-hamstring-injury.html, image courtesy of guardian.co.uk). In this recent Guardian article explains the mechanisms and benefits of cryotherapy in sports and shows the Tottenham Hotspurs football team getting treatment.
Cold therapy is primarily used in recovery, particularly from injury or immediately post-match. Hocutt et al., (1982) highlighted the significantly better recovery of patients from an ankle sprain using cryotherapy compared to heat treatment when the subject was treated within 36hours of the incident. And there are many other research papers detailing the benefits, but as Giuseppe et al., (2010) summarises:
“The therapy, called whole-body cryotherapy (WBC), consists of exposure to very cold air that is maintained at −110°C to −140°C in special temperature-controlled cryochambers, generally for 2 minutes. WBC is used to relieve pain and inflammatory symptoms caused by numerous disorders, particularly those associated with rheumatic conditions, and is recommended for the treatment of arthritis, fibromyalgia and ankylosing spondylitis. In sports medicine, WBC has gained wider acceptance as a method to improve recovery from muscle injury. Unfortunately, there are few papers concerning the application of the treatment on athletes. The study of possible enhancement of recovery from injuries and possible modification of physiological parameters, taking into consideration the limits imposed by antidoping rules, is crucial for athletes and sports physicians for judging the real benefits and/or limits of WBC. According to the available literature, WBC is not harmful or detrimental in healthy subjects.”
For all you serious athletes, cryotherapy and similar treatments are certainly worth considering and I would recommend Giuseppe et al., (2010) as a good starting point when you begin to understand it. In the meantime, see it in action with this video.