Wearable Technology to Minimise Injury Risk

Injuries are part of life, and a risk for anyone who plays sport or exercises. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite athlete or a part time gym user, all it takes is an unfortunate fall or wrong movement, and you can be on the sidelines for an extended period of time.

While there is no magic way to prevent injury, there are ways to minimise the risk of getting injured. Utilising wearable technology is one such way.

Fitness trackers have become increasingly popular as they can detect activities that cause back and shoulder pain. Poor movement and body posture is one of the most common causes of injury, and also one of the most avoidable. To this end, it would be worth taking note of the feature on wearable technology in the workplace that Quartz published last year. In it, Quartz recounted how a company justified the installation of ergonomic equipment after it performed a wearable-assisted analysis of its workers’ movements and posture. The results found both could be easily improved for a healthier workforce.

Early this year, Wareable came up with a list of tech to stay injury-free. First on its list is the Garmin Forerunner 935, a fitness tracker that “tells” its users when to rest and for how long. Rest is particularly crucial for injury prevention as fatigue can indirectly lead to injury. A person working out, for instance, may no longer be able to perform every repetition correctly, and this dip in form can in turn cause an injury. Recently, a study from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine showed a link between fatigue and an increased risk of ACL tears. The study is the first of its kind, and is undeniable proof that fatigue can, indeed, lead to injury.

The wealth of information fitness trackers can monitor is considerable, which is probably the reason why they are increasingly becoming popular among non-athletes. As pointed out by Coral in the article ‘What’s the Impact of Technology on Sport?’ the relationship is “one of positivity and improvement”. Aside from monitoring a person’s training load and suggesting optimal rest time, fitness trackers can also keep track of other important vitals, notably one’s heart rate. They can even monitor sleep patterns, and suggest improvements accordingly. This particular capability, in turn, is vital to injury prevention since good quality sleep helps the body recover fully. Without it, all those minute tears and strains may not completely heal, and will be more vulnerable to further injury. Recall that in a previous post, IMT discussed physiological monitoring via wearables. These devices, as mentioned, can be integrated to virtually any piece of clothing or accessory.

Fitness trackers, though, are not the only wearables you can use to minimise injury risk. Avid runners or joggers, for instance, can wear Sensoria socks. These hi-tech socks are embedded with textile sensors that let the wearer keep track of their cadence, weight distribution, centre of balance, and feet landing. Data gleaned by the sensors in the socks will be transmitted to the accompanying mobile app, which will suggest to the wearer ways to improve and prevent injury.

But again, it is important to note that wearables do not prevent injuries. Rather, they provide useful information that the wearer can use to minimise their risk of injury. Ultimately, it will be up to the wearer to peruse that information and use it for their benefit.

Written exclusively for imtinnovation.com prepared by Jessie Benfield.

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