Are you ready for some football?
Fall is here! The leaves are changing colors, the days are cooler and that means one thing – Football!
When we’re watching a football game we often don’t think about the ergonomics and biomechanics that go into the athlete’s performance. And yet, so many things impact the athlete and their ability to perform at their peak.
(This information about ergonomics and biomechanics basically holds true for both the female and male athlete, although there are some differences in the ways the female body reacts. Since this is a blog about football, I will be using “he”).
The physical build of a person obviously has an impact on the sports played, but there are also many more factors involved, including environmental stresses which may influence a players performance. The temperature/weather conditions (ever watch a football game being played in the snow?), air quality (including smog/pollution and allergens), and how loud a football stadium can get (there is a reason for the fight song and loud cheering from the home team) definitely can influence an athletes performance!
Proper ergonomics help keep the player safe and, hopefully, free from severe injury. Equipment – including clothing – plays a role in that safety. According to Thomas Reilly, author of Ergonomics in Sport and Physical Activity, there are three main ways in which equipment design can help prevent injuries. First, quality control during the production processes ensures the risks are minimized. Secondly, the equipment must meet the needs and characteristics of the user – including age, sex, and skill level. Lastly, effective and comfortable equipment cushions individuals against harmful impact. Think of the many types of athletic shoes – for running, soccer, tennis, etc. – all designed to help prevent injuries for specific sports.
Besides different shoes for different sports there are specific shoes for external conditions. For example, football cleats are different depending on whether the game is played on turf or sod. Different studies have shown differing injury rates when comparing grass vs turf injuries. So, according to Justin Shaginaw, MPT, ATC, and author of a 2013 Sports Doc article, wearing cleats – or turf shoes – may help to decrease traction and therefore decrease lower extremity injuries. He also notes that the decreased traction may cause players to slip…
Concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) are getting more attention and more studies are being done to find ways to prevent CTE and find ways to diagnose it early. At the moment it can only be diagnosed after death. Research is being done to find ways to diagnose CTE while the person is still alive – a recent study which compares a protein associated with Alzheimer’s to protein in a brain with CTE is available at PLOS|One. For more information about football concussions and for some of the advances in football helmet designs see the “More Resources” section below.
So, what about the biomechanics of sports? Simply put, sports biomechanics is “the study and analysis of human movement patterns in sport.” (Introduction to Sports Biomechanics: Analysing Human Movement Patterns). The author, Roger Bartlett, focuses on movement analysis with the aim of helping athletes perform better with fewer injuries. He does this by exploring all aspects of movement – causes (forces & torques), geometry (movement patterns), and anatomy (bones, muscles, joints). He also devotes a chapter to qualitative movement and the use of recording movement and the data processing. This book is full of photos, illustrations, tables, and each chapter has its own glossary of important terms, study tasks, and further readings!
Even if you – like most of us – aren’t cut out to be a star football player, you can still learn about the biomechanics and the ergonomics of sports!
Goff, John Eric. 2010. Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press. Online access.
Reilly, Thomas. 2010. Ergonomics in sport and physical activity : enhancing performance and improving safety. Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics. Engineering Library RC1235 .R45 2010
Bartlett, Roger. 2007. Introduction to sports biomechanics : analysing human movement patterns. London ; New York : Routledge. Engineering Library QP303 .B376 2007
Mez, Jesse; Daneshvar, Daniel H.; Kiernan, Patrick T. Clinical Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football. July 25, 2017. JAMA Network. American Medical Association.
Whiting, William Charles. 2008. Biomechanics of musculoskeletal injury. Champaign, IL : Human Kinetics. Engineering Library FOLIO RD680 .W47 2008
Goldman, Tom. July 25, 2017. Study: CTE Found In Nearly All Donated NFL Player Brains. Heard on All Things Considered. Iowa Public Radio. npr.
Cherry, Jonathan D., et al. Sept. 26, 2017. CCL11 is increased in the CNS in chronic traumatic encephalopathy but not in Alzheimer’s disease. PLOS|ONE
Shaginaw, Justin, MPT, ATC. Oct. 2, 2013. Grass vs turf: Does it affect injury rate. The Inquirer Daily News. Philadelphia Media Network (Digital), LLC.
Synthetic Turf Injury Studies. Center for Sports Surface Research. Penn State College of Agriculture Studies. Department of Plant Science. Date Accessed: October 17, 2017.
How Well Do Football Helmets Protect Players from Concussions? American Academy of Neurology. Date Accessed: Sept. 27, 2017
BJSM FREE: Consensus statement on concussion in sport – the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. April 29, 2o17. footballmed.net
Mez, Jesse, Daneshvar, Daniel H., Kiernan, Patrick T., et al. July 25, 2017. Clinicopathological Evaluation of chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football. JAMA Network.
Also from JAMAevidence (available through the library LibGuides), search “all sites.
Brigham Young University. Sept. 21, 2017. Football helmet smartfoam signals potential concussions in real time, study suggests. ScienceDaily : Your source for the latest research news.
Stella, Rick. April 4, 2017. Flexible Football Helmet Absorbs Hits Like a Car Bumper, Could Put an End to Concussions. Designtechnica Corporation. Digital Trends.