Researchers in Australia have developed a new device that can help predict and prevent hamstring injuries in elite athletes. Hamstring strain is one of the most common injuries in sport, and can sometimes be so severe that surgery is required to continue playing at a professional level.
The device, known as the NordBord, has been in development for over five years, and has been tested on over 1,000 athletes. The basis for the technology is a hamstring exercise known as the Nordic curl. "We've shown with our research that athletes that are weak at this exercise are significantly more likely… to sustain a hamstring strain," Tony Shield, health researcher at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), said in a demonstration video.
Athletes kneel on the board and bend forward from the knees, while stirrups hold their legs in place as they move towards the ground. These stirrups are able to measure the eccentric strength - the amount of force that a muscle can generate while it lengthens - during the exercise.
This measurement tells researchers and exercise scientists the likelihood that a recovering athlete will do further damage to their hamstring – allowing them to come up with a strategy to prevent this injury.
"The NordBord's advanced sensors and data capture software will enable clinicians, coaches and high performance staff to accurately understand the hamstring strength of each player," Shield said. "It's fantastic to see our research out there in sporting clubs making a real difference to elite sporting teams and athletes by providing them with useful insights."
The technology is now being manufactured by a company based in Brisbane, Vald Performance, and has already had orders from European soccer teams as well as American NFL and baseball teams.
Vald Performance CEO Laurie Malone says the result is fantastic for a small start-up company.
"NordBords are already being sent to eight English Premier League soccer teams, nine AFL teams, five Rugby World Cup national teams, four NRL teams and five to different National Institutes of Sport," Malone said. "Years of sports science, research and technology has gone into the development of the NordBord… and we're thrilled to already be filling orders for dozens of elite teams and sports organisations around the world."
The NordBord will hopefully save professional sports clubs millions of dollars in lost player time, and make elite sport safer for athletes all over the world.
Check out this video below to see a demonstration of the NordBord and how it works.