Increasingly, sport is put at the service of science to improve the chances of its athletes and achieve their maximum performance from them. But can the ultimate athlete be created through science? That is what a group of researchers from the Georges Charpak Institute of Human Biomechanics of Arts and Crafts (ENSAM) are contemplating. In their efforts they use multiple techniques, such as a 3D x-ray imaging device.
According to Philippe Rouch, director of ENSAM, they are accustomed to receiving inquiries from clubs and federations about specific problems. Robots develop a good part of the basic tasks in this Institute of Biomechanics. They try new equipment or models of shoes reproducing as faithfully as possible the movements of the player. The sensors placed on the ground measure the force while moving the virtual athlete. The data obtained allow the material to be classified according to the most valued properties, such as flexibility or damping. 3D modeling is allowing you to accurately assess both the performance and the risks associated with each movement.
“In athletes, there is a very strong individual variability in terms of bone shape, muscle placement and flexibility, characteristics, in addition, which are marked in each athlete by the early age of beginning in their discipline,” says the professor Rouch. This forces us to personalize the virtual models that are taken for the analysis in order to recreate the exact anatomy of the athlete in the computer and evaluate through this avatar different movement strategies calculating if they are safe or optimal, according to the intended objective.
The avatar is made of a 3D skeleton model of the athlete from the so-called EOS system, which provides an image of the entire body, in an upright position and with a very low dose of X-rays thanks to its highly sensitive detectors. The measurement of movement is then applied as realistically as possible by placing more than 90 reflective markers at specific locations on the athlete’s body. It is a technology that the team of mechanical engineers has already tested on the players of the French national football team, helping them suffer fewer bruises.
Consultations of rugby, basketball or other sports team coaches who are anonymously interested in how to obtain a personalized modeling of physical behavior in the field, especially to avoid bruising, are also common. This diagnosis is used to improve performance and at the same time protect players’ joints from serious injuries.
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