Researchers at Brigham Young University recently designed and built an unobtrusive skate sensor that can measure the impact when a figure skater lands a jump: it turns out they're absorbing forces up to eight times their own body weight.
For comparison, when running your legs are only absorbing about two to three times your own body weight. But given the height a figure skater can reach during a jump, the impacts are dramatically increased.
Previous attempts to measure these forces had skaters in a research lab jumping off a platform onto a sensor plate, but it never produced a truly accurate picture of what they were dealing with. But with this new skate sensor more accurate data can be gathered during an actual performance on the ice; it measures forces separately at the front, middle, and back of the foot without affecting a skater's performance.
Stress fractures in the feet and legs as well as hip and back injuries are particularly common among figure skaters. So besides giving us all a little more respect for what a figure skater has to deal with, this new data will help to minimise the inevitable injuries that come from absorbing these forces up to 50 times a day, five days a week, while training for a competition.
The researchers at BYU are hoping this new sensor will help coaches and physicians develop new training routines that are easier on these athlete's bodies so that they're not facing inevitable hip replacements by the time they're forty. And so that they can compete and keep doing what they love for as long as possible. [Brigham Young University]