Modern electronics allow for the unobtrusive measurement of accelerations outside the laboratory using wireless sensor nodes. The ability to accurately measure joint accelerations under unrestricted conditions, and to correlate them with jump height and landing force, could provide important data to better understand joint mechanics subject to real-life conditions. This study investigates the correlation between peak vertical ground reaction forces, as measured by a force plate, and tibial axial accelerations during free vertical jumping. The jump heights calculated from force-plate data and accelerometer measurements are also compared. For six male subjects participating in this study, the average coefficient of determination between peak ground reaction force and peak tibial axial acceleration is found to be 0.81. The coefficient of determination between jump height calculated using force plate and accelerometer data is 0.88. Data show that the landing forces could be as high as 8 body weights of the jumper. The measured peak tibial accelerations ranged up to 42 g. Jump heights calculated from force plate and accelerometer sensors data differed by less than 2.5 cm. It is found that both impact accelerations and landing forces are only weakly correlated with jump height (the average coefficient of determination is 0.12). This study shows that unobtrusive accelerometers can be used to determine the ground reaction forces experienced in a jump landing. Whereas the device also permitted an accurate determination of jump height, there was no correlation between peak ground reaction force and jump height.
N. Elvin is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; A. Elvin is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Arnoczky is with the Laboratory for Comparative Orthopaedic Research, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.