To investigate the relationship between whole-body accelerations and body-worn accelerometry during team-sport movements.
Twenty male team-sport players performed forward running and anticipated 45° and 90° side-cuts at approach speeds of 2, 3, 4, and 5 m/s. Whole-body center-of-mass (CoM) accelerations were determined from ground-reaction forces collected from 1 foot–ground contact, and segmental accelerations were measured from a commercial GPS accelerometer unit on the upper trunk. Three higher-specification accelerometers were also positioned on the GPS unit, the dorsal aspect of the pelvis, and the shaft of the tibia. Associations between mechanical load variables (peak acceleration, loading rate, and impulse) calculated from both CoM accelerations and segmental accelerations were explored using regression analysis. In addition, 1-dimensional statistical parametric mapping (SPM) was used to explore the relationships between peak segmental accelerations and CoM-acceleration profiles during the whole foot–ground contact.
A weak relationship was observed for the investigated mechanical load variables regardless of accelerometer location and task (R2 values across accelerometer locations and tasks: peak acceleration .08–.55, loading rate .27–.59, and impulse .02–.59). Segmental accelerations generally overestimated whole-body mechanical load. SPM analysis showed that peak segmental accelerations were mostly related to CoM accelerations during the first 40–50% of contact phase.
While body-worn accelerometry correlates to whole-body loading in team-sport movements and can reveal useful estimates concerning loading, these correlations are not strong. Body-worn accelerometry should therefore be used with caution to monitor whole-body mechanical loading in the field.
The authors are with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. Vanrenterghem is also with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium.