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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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north-queensland-cowboys-logo“The running symmetry is outstanding.  Being able to quantify and show our athletes, and they can see a number they need to improve on will be a great help.  Tariq Sims after 2 broken legs will get enormous benefit from this.  We can see he is favouring one leg but being able to quantify that and show him will help.  Because Tariq has struggled with 2 broken legs back to back his gait to him seems good but to be able to show him the data will help his mindset as he looks to improve!”


Paul Bowman | High Performance Manager 

North Queensland Toyota Cowboys



Gaining a deeper insight into an athlete ́s running mechanics and the changes in their mechanics due to injury, fatigue or other limitations, provides critical information to maximise performance. This insight is now available through the GPSports Running SymmetryAnalysis.

GPSports delivers an analysis of the athlete’s Running Symmetry based on information derived from both the accelerometer and GPS sensors. The software identifies, quantifies and compares the forces at ground contact (foot strike) on the right and left side during running.

The percentage difference, between the left and right stride is reported to the user as ‘Imbalance’. For example, a score of ‘zero’ represents a symmetrical running stride. That being, a series of foot strikes where the left is the same as the right side. A ‘5% Right’ score reflects an asymmetrical stride, specifically a 5% greater load on the right side, compared with the left.

To complete the analysis GPSports identifies a specified number of foot strikes in sequence combined with settings to control for change in direction and speed as these events are known to not be symmetrical.

The goal is to establish a tight normal range for each athlete and identify changes at an individual level.

Practical Applications

Rehabilitation – See changes over time as the athlete improves during the process of rehabilitation

Return to Play – Use Running Symmetry as an objective return to play marker

Athlete Screening – Use Running Symmetry on a weekly basis to identify changes in running mechanics

Quality Analysis

  1. GPSports Unit Fit – This analysis relies heavily on quality data. Ensure the unit is tightly fitted to the body to minimise bouncing of the unit. Ideally, wear a GPSports vest.
  2. Running Surface – An undulating or irregular surface will influence results as the athlete will adapt as required. For consistent results ensure a consistent surface
  3. Straight Line Running –Straight line running as by nature it is more symmetrical that nonlinear running. For consistent results run in straight lines
  4. Constant Speed – Significant acceleration and decelerations are generally not symmetrical activities and are usually excluded for the analysis. For consistent results run at reasonable constant speeds. 

Internal Investigations

Can The Analysis Differentiate Healthy From Rehabilitation Populations?

As part of our internal validation project 1100 samples of straight line field based running were analysed using the GPSports Team AMS software. The data set included 550 healthy (normal) and 550 rehabilitating athletes and athletic general population.

The graph below represents the 1100 samples in 2 groups where each running series was plotted with speed (km/h) on the Y axis and percentage imbalance on the X axis. Positive and negative results represent right and left side bias respectively. Note, Speed Thresholds of 12km/h and 10km/h were used for the Normal and Rehabilitation groups respectively. A Minimum Foot Strike Threshold of 20 was used for both groups (see Team AMS Settings).

The graph shows a clear difference between the Normal group (Avg. 2.2% Imbalance, St.Dev 1.4) and the Rehabilitation group (Avg. 5.6% Imbalance, St.Dev 4.3). 


When we observe the individual subject data the same trend was present. This graph shows the individual average Imbalance. Each subject had a minimum of 20 series (i.e. 20 distinct runs) included in the analysis and in most cases a clear difference between Normal and Rehabilitation subjects was observed. 



At this stage the evidence suggests the GPSports Running Symmetry Analysis can differentiate symmetrical and non-symmetrical running gait. Based on the above information GPSports uses a ‘normal’ range of 5% Imbalance when presenting results in SPI IQ. Like many variables, an individual’s change in score is perhaps more important than comparison to ‘normal’.

Further Investigations

At this stage we are looking to engage a university partner to run an independent project to investigate the accuracy of our analysis against a gold standard measure. 

Team AMS Running Symmetry Interface

This analysis can be run on any session files or splits in Team AMS. Depending on the settings used in Team AMS, the analysis will identify the series (sequences) of foot strikes that meet the criteria.

This information is displayed in the Running Symmetry tab of Team AMS. 



Team AMS Settings


o Min. Speed – the minimum speed for the data to be considered for analysis (default setting 12km/h)

o Min. # Foot Strikes – the minimum number of consecutive foot strikes to determine a series to be analysed (default setting 10 foot strikes)

o Indoor Mode – Ignore GPS Data – this setting omits line and speed control from the analysis and can be used for treadmill or indoor running.

Summary of Results

o Series Count – the number of foot strike series (sequences) that meet the criteria for the analysis o Total Foot Strikes – the total number of foot strikes included in the analysis
o Imbalance – average percentage difference between left and right legs, based on all series
o Standard Deviation – based on Imbalance scores of all identified series

Matching Foot Strike Series Table

Provides summary information about every series successfully detected by the analysis o Start, End Time & Duration – Time markers of the running series
o Foot Strikes – the number of foot strikes in the series
o Distance – distance travelled during the series

o Avg. Speed – Average speed of the particular running series
o Max. Speed – Maximum speed of the particular running series
o Imbalance – % difference between left & right leg for the particular series 

SPI IQ Interface

Running Symmetry variables are available as SPI IQ table variables. Displayed here in the 2 columns on the

right of the table. Table variables can be renamed to suit the user. 



Running Symmetry (Side Bar) Graph – shows the Imbalance, as calculated in Team AMS. Error bars represent the standard deviation of scores for that particular player. Red lines represent the ‘normal’ range. 



Running Symmetry (Bar) Graph – shows Imbalance for a single athlete for the selected period. For group reports the bars show groups average and the error bars represent the maximum and minimum values of the group. 




Are you ready to dominate your league or sport?  To find out more about how GPSports SPI HPU unit and SPI IQ software can benefit your team CLICK HERE to have one of our Human Performance Specialists talk to you about your team and  how GPSports can meet your specific needs.

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By Dr. Craig Duncan

Girl goalie diving

A short conversation with a parent a number of years ago made me realise the extent of the problems we have in youth sport. This parent wanted advice on how to make his child faster and stronger to ensure he would become a professional soccer player.

After advising him that the services he required would be expensive, he replied: “don’t worry about the cost, my son’s career will be my superannuation”.

This left me astounded. The child was nine years old.

Sport is an integral part of the social and cultural landscape of much of the world, and its physical and psychological benefits are well-documented. However, where once sport was considered a pastime, it has now evolved into a potential career choice. The catch is there are only a relative few who can make a career out of sport.

Sports science has had some bad press of late. And now a series of reports surrounding elite sport in schools, including the Scots College sports science unit, has added further fuel to the anti-sport scientist fire.

The school has been accused of “buying” athletic students with scholarships, giving supplements to students and providing over the top high-tech sport equipment. The school’s new high-performance centre has a resident sports scientist and a “hypoxic chamber – a device to simulate training at high altitudes.

The traditional role of sport scientists is to maximise the potential of athletes whilst ensuring the risk of injury is minimised, whether that injury is physical or psychological.

So it’s not the involvement of sport scientists in schools per se that is the issue – injuries can be reduced and programs can be systematically monitored. After all, over-training among young athletes is a common problem. But the benefits of a sport science unit can be all be for nothing if the focus is purely on servicing the elite and not ensuring all students are able to fulfil their potential.

It all boils down to the reason we have sport in the first place. Somewhere in time, many parents, coaches and schools have got confused, and started to believe that the goal is to be elite. This concept of “elite” has then seemingly become a selling point for certain schools. They have created professional facilities in order to sell parents and students the dream of becoming a future professional athlete.

Otherwise why would a school have an hypoxic altitude chamber? If it is there to impress prospective parents and justify extensive fees – a kind of pricey marketing tool – then it could be understood.

But from a sport science perspective spending significant money on gaining a minimal, if any advantage, from an altitude chamber demonstrates a poor understanding of sport science and even poorer understanding of what is required to become an elite athlete. It is nearly laughable that school aged children would be using such equipment when so many basic changes can be made to improve performance.

There is a real concern that this kind of equipment is not really about enhancing the student but more about making an impression.

It is also a concern that many seem to want youngsters to stick to one sport early on, or what we call “early specialisation”. The reasoning is that this will give them the best chance to be “elite” with the mythical 10,000 hour rule often quoted. This rule suggests you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become elite. Nevermind that this rule is based on research completed on chess playersviolinists and pianists, not sportsmen.

The problem with early specialisation is the distinct decrease in exposure to a variety of movement patterns. If you are only solving the one movement puzzle we can be assured that we will have athletes of lower quality and increase the risk of injury through overuse.

And with all the focus on being school sport “elite”, who is there to pick up the pieces when the dream of being a professional sportsman is shattered? What is the psychological cost when they get to 17 and do not fulfill the elite dream? What has been the cost to their schooling, their family and to their basic social development by chasing a dream that, in most cases, is not possible and may not have even been their own.

Rather than focusing on the elite, we should focus on the 99% that won’t make a living from sport, and ensure they are physically active for life.

We should always promote the desire to fulfil ones’ dreams but the concern is that with all the time spent training, the dream may become blurred, particularly when the dream is really that of the parents, coaches or the schools.


Dr. Craig DuncanDr. Craig Duncan is a senior lecturer and Sports Science Consultant at Australian Catholic University and has lectured in the field of sport science for over 14 years.  He has consulted to the football federation of Australia and was head of human performance at Sydney FC.




Are you ready to dominate your league or sport?  To find out more about how GPSports SPI HPU unit and SPI IQ software can benefit your team CLICK HERE to have one of our Human Performance Specialists talk to you about your team and  how GPSports can meet your specific needs.

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By Mick Blythe


When sporting pursuits are undertaken at high competitive levels it becomes necessary to ‘push’ the body to achieve greater performance. A point is often reached when the stresses and strains exerted exceed that which it is capable of withstanding (Mottran, 2010). Any injury results in reduced levels of performance capability and may require the abstention from sport for a period of recuperation (Mottram, 2010). As well as the pain and discomfort associated with injury, the individual’s performance is likely to deteriorate during this period of inactivity and an extended training period may be required to regain peak fitness (Mottram, 2010). 

In a sport where a career may be of limited duration and the difference between winning and losing marginal, if the body refuses to perform, even a minor injury can be devastating and career plans can be ruined overnight (Waddington & Smith, 2009; Mottram, 2010). This means athlete’s run the daily risk of failure on account of injuries, illness or psychological burnout (Bette, 2004). Resultantly, athletes are compelled to compete when injured – something even demanded by many spectators (Moller, 2010; Miah, 2010). 

In ‘contact’ sports some of the occurring injuries are commensurate only to those of high speed vehicular crashes (Brookes cited in Stott, 2010) with particular concern given to those who suffer repeated head trauma. For the European Rugby League ‘super league’ season ending October 2009, brain injuries, broken noses / jaws, and fractured skulls, eye sockets and cheek bones all occurred (Stott, 2010). A study of professional Rugby League players over three seasons also found that 13-17% of them sustained concussion each season (Hinton-Bayre, Geffen, Friis, 2004).  

This is concerning as long term consequences of head trauma include cognitive, behavioural, and biological deficits (Ives, Alderman, Stred, 2007) and the onset of hypopituitarism which can lead to a failure of physical growth, a stagnation of physical skills, lower energy levels, and orthostatic changes (Ives, Alderman, Stred, 2007).  Repeated head and neck trauma could also lead to the development or aggravation of cervical stenosis (Pollard, Hansen, Hoskins, 2005).  Despite being rare (Gibbs, 1993), serious head and neck injuries have also caused cervical spinal cord injuries, quadriplegia and paraplegia (Armour, Clatworthy, Bean et al, 1997; Rotern, Lawson, Wilson, 1998).

According to Svatkovsky (2000) there is no suggestion that athletes are not aware of these risks and amongst most there are no regrets at having paid for success with their health; this is not to say though that they are not concerned about their health (Miah, 2010).  Coaches, commentators and medical professionals alike have also expressed concern about the apparent growing incidence and severity of injuries in sport and have suggested (often controversial) ways of reducing the risks. Some even claim these imperative if we are to protect the welfare of players (Williams, 2011). Evidence even exists that such feelings within the athletic fraternity have led to the development of a ‘drug tolerance’ culture (Moller, 2010; Waddington & Smith, 2009) but in the words of elite sportsmen themselves:


“not to improve performance, but merely to take away the pain” (Olympic gold medallist / tour de France rider)


‘simply to survive” (World Cup winning footballer)


………..and as: “medicine” (Great Britain Rugby League international)


Although the mere suggestion of ‘loosening’ prohibited drug laws will provoke fierce criticism, a pertinent question is why should athletes not be allowed to run the health risks associated with prohibited drug use, when we do allow them to run what are probably greater health risks associated with injury? Less provocative suggestions include the improvement of protective equipment, better coaching, increased medical provision, greater performance profiling, reduced ‘game time’ and rule changes. Inception of these though is often offset against purchase prices, time expenditure and reduced income meaning an athlete’s health may be put at risk as part of club ‘cost cutting’. It is hard to envisage this been allowed in other professions. 

Yes, top sportspeople are rewarded handsomely for a job most can only dream of. Yes, as such we expect them to welcome the stresses and pressures of elite competition. However, we shouldn’t forget that as a society we have a moral obligation to protect the welfare of others.  This means, regardless of trade, all people should (if and when needed) be given the resources needed to protect themselves from harm and the time needed to heal from injury / illness without social stigmatism. 


Mick Blythe HeadshotMick Blythe   MSc, Cert-Ed.

Rotherham, United Kingdom.

  • Owner /  lead staff:  MB Health and Fitness
  • Academy manager: Sheffield Steeldogs Ice Hockey academy
  • Tutor / Assessor: Envisage Training
  • S&C coach: Dearne Valley Bulldogs ARLFC 



Are you ready to dominate your league or sport?  To find out more about how GPSports SPI HPU unit and SPI IQ software can benefit your team CLICK HERE to have one of our Human Performance Specialists talk to you about your team and  how GPSports can meet your specific needs.


GPSports will be at the NFL Combine as well as in Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia this February.  CLICK HERE to schedule a visit and trial.



Armour, K.S., Clatworthy, B.J., Bean, A.R., Wells, J.E., Clarke, A.M. (1997). Spinal injuries in New Zealand rugby and rugby league—–a twenty year survey. New Zealand Medical Journal. 110(1057):462—5.


Bette, K.H. (2004). Biographical risks and doping, in J. Hoberman and V. Moller (eds) Doping and Public Policy. Odense.  Odense University of Southern Denmark


Gibbs, N. (1993). Injuries in professional rugby league: a three year prospective study of the South Sydney Professional Rugby League Football Club. American Journal of Sports Medicine.  21(5): 696-700.


Hinton-Bayre, A.D., Geffen, G., Friis, P. (2004). Presentation and mechanisms of concussion in professional rugby league football. Journal of Science Medicine and Sport. 7(3):400-4.


Ives, J.C., Alderman, M., Stred, S.E. (2007). Hypopituitarism after Multiple Concussions: A Retrospective Case Study in an Adolescent Male. Journal of Athletic Training. 42(3):431–439.


Miah, A. (2010). Fight club: Should doping be allowed in sport? The Times Eureka. 14.


Moller, V. (2010). The ethics of doping and anti-doping: Redeeming the soul of sport? Routledge. London.


Mottram, D. (2010). Drugs in Sport (5TH ed). London. Routledge.


Pollard, H., Hansen, L., Hoskins, W. (2005). Cervical stenosis in a professional rugby league football player: a case history. Chiropractic Osteopath. 13:15.


Rotem, T.R., Lawson, J.S., Wilson, S.F., et al (1998). Severe cervical spinal cord injuries related to rugby union and league football in New South Wales, 1984—1996. Medical Journal of Australia. 168(8):379—81.


Stott, J. (2010). BRUTAL. News of the World. 24/01/10, 84-85.


Waddington, I., & Smith, A. (2009). An introduction to drugs in sport: Addicted to winning? London. Routledge


Williams, T. (2011). Player burnout could be resolved. Accessed from www.loverugbyleague.com  12/01/2011

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