The new sports biomechanics laboratory at Liverpool John Moores University was opened in 1999 and consists of a 54 m runway with indoor athletics track surface together with analysis areas alongside. The laboratory can be divided into three areas or opened out to provide one large area. Each area can be used for special applications which reflect the interests of staff in the areas of sports biomechanics (Professor Adrian Lees), musculo-skeletal biomechanics (Dr Mark Lake) and gait analysis (Dr Gabor Barton).
The laboratory is well equipped for all aspects of movement analysis. The main component of the facility is the ProReflex system. The lab has an 8 camera 1 000 Hz fixed system that is ceiling mounted around the main analysis volume and is used for whole body analysis including gait analysis.
It is supported by a further 8 camera 1000 Hz system which is free moving and is used for more specialist applications into musculo-skeletal mechanics, particularly of the lower limb during dynamic movements. These systems are enhanced with four Kistler force platforms sited in various locations throughout the laboratory and supported by an R-Scan high speed pressure mat, and several EMG and accelerometer systems.
Applications in the area of sports biomechanics include the analysis of soccer skills. The Department has had a specialty in soccer for many years and is currently investigating skills such as the kick and the throw-in. Gait analysis is also conducted within the laboratory. Projects to date have included asymmetry of amputee gait, functional characteristics of ankle joint replacement patients and movement patterns detection and automated diagnosis for cerebral palsy children.
The ability to collect high speed 3D motion data has opened up the possibility of new types of analysis for understanding performance and injury mechanisms associated with these skills. In the area of musculo-skeletal mechanics the ultra high speed (1000 Hz) system has enabled the detection of high frequency vibration of the shank as the foot makes impact with the ground during running and cutting maneuvers. The shock and after vibrations from impact are detectable through using accelerometry but also can be reproduced from the 3D coordinate data of markers on the shank.
The possibility of obtaining such high quality information from displacement measurements opens up a window for investigating the fundamental mechanisms involved in foot ground interface during dynamic movements.