How much stress is imposed on the joints when ice skating? A group of researchers in the United States sought to find out by developing a device that can measure the force exerted by a figure skater when performing.
The small, lightweight device could potentially be used by skaters and their trainers to avoid injuries, as well as help in the design of new skating boots, according to the Institute of Physics (IOP).
The instrumented blade developed by the researchers from Brigham Young University and Ithaca College has been presented in IOP Publishing´s journal Measurement Science and Technology.
The blade is fitted with strain gauges which are attached directly to the stanchions where the blade connects to the boot. When the stanchions deform due to the force induced by the ice skater when performing jumps or spins, it causes the strain gauges to deform as well. The associated change in electrical resistance is measured by a device called a Wheatstone bridge, and a central control system is used to calculate the overall force that was imparted.
The system is capable of measuring both vertical and horizontal forces.
According to the team´s paper on their research, the entire system weighs 142g and fits in the space under the boot. None of the components makes contact with the ice.
The researchers pointed out that competitive figure skaters experience substantial, repeated impact loading during jumps and landings. These loads are thought to be as high as six times body weight, and they can lead to overuse injuries.
The new device is intended to help measure these forces on-ice, with a view to improving safety for skaters.