Isokinetic Conference 2019: football medicine meets the world of sport

The industry of sports medicine is witnessing an unprecedented growth. According to a new report by Grand View Research, the industry is expected to grow at a 7.8% rate over the course of the next seven years, reaching a market value of 13.4 USD billions in 2026.

Many factors contribute to such a strong growth. Changing attitudes towards healthier lifestyles, massive technological advancements, bigger public and private investments, as well as the rise of new specialised jobs in the industry are but some of them.

Sports medicine can dramatically increase performance
Undeniably, the professional sport industry has been at the forefront of this industrial boom. Indeed, the role of sports medicine in prevention, medication and rehabilitation from sports injury has become just as important as training to athletic and sports team all over the world.

The initial push from the professional sports environment turned the sports medicine industry at every level into a domain for specialists. Its subsequent evolution has brought together experts from not only the medical sector, but also sports physician, technicians, orthopaedics, researchers and scientists.

In short, sports medicine has become a multi-faceted industry, where the variety of stakeholders is contributing to its rapid evolution.

However, this evolution in sports medicine would have not been possible, had it not been for the football industry. The first pioneer in this segment of medicine, football teams had and still have by far the largest pool of resources to invest, as well as the biggest potential risks whenever one of their players is injured.

This is hardly surprising. Football is one of the most popular contact sports worldwide, and football players are more than three times more likely to be injured during a match than while on training, with a strong prevalence of lower limb injuries with respect to other body parts.

Latest technology is the key to sports success
Once a player is injured, the football team may will need to spend hundreds of thousands of euro to treat and rehabilitate from the injury, as well as in a large opportunity cost stemming from the fact that the player will not be able to play for a certain amount of time. In a 2010 study by Dr Ismael Fernandez Cueva, he estimated the total cost of football injuries in the First and Second Spanish Football Divisions amounting to approximately 190 million euros per season.
One football injury can be extremely costly
Likewise, other non-football sports teams have to deal with the opportunity cost they face whenever one of their athlete is injured. Therefore, it is in their best interest to lower the Return to Play (RTP) rate for their players as much as possible, investing in prevention and rehabilitation techniques to keep the athlete healthy and safe.

Isokinetic Conference 2019

How to apply the technological, medical and scientific achievements accrued over the years in the world of football to other sports? This has been the main question asked during the Isokinetic Conference 2019, one of the most important meeting venues for rehabilitation and injury experts, held at Wembley Stadium from April 27 to April 29.  

This edition saw the attendance of more than 3000 participants from over 100 countries, highlighting the ever-growing interest in the field. Sports Medicine experts, researchers, scientists and the most important wellness, medicine and fitness companies all participated to the conference, offering seminars and workshops to showcase the state of the art in prevention, rehabilitation and treatment of sports injuries.

Furthermore, a large exhibition space was arranged to host the 49 sponsors of the company, with each company showing their most recent technologic and scientific developments in their respective fields.

Technogym at the forefront of sports training

Technogym, being the world leading company in fitness, wellness and sport solutions, also attended the conference. The company’s history in the world of elite sports is long and deeply rooted in its culture. From its first partnership with AC Milan in 1986 – which ultimately led to the creation of Milan Lab, one of the most innovative fitness facilities for football players in the world, Technogym has today become either partner or official supplier to some of the most important teams and sports competitions on earth.
Therefore, the interest of Technogym in the field of physical rehabilitation through exercise is well grounded. In its exhibition stand, Technogym displayed and let the audience test its SKILLBIKE, SKILLRUN PRO and SKILLMILL, key equipment in the assessment and prevention of cumulative injuries, as well as for a steady Return to Play for the athlete.

Variable Inertia Training in sports rehabilitation

In addition to its stand, Technogym actively participated to the academic debate of the conference, offering a sponsored workshop named “Variable inertia training, optimization with robotic-resistance strength machine for rehabilitation”, presented by Dr Francesco Cuzzolin, Technogym’s Director of Research and Innovation within the Technogym Scientific Department.

In his presentation, Dr Cuzzolin evaluated the role of technology in resistance training, a cornerstone of athletic rehabilitation. In resistance training, there are three different major branches of resistance.

With constant resistance, the acceleration of the movement is negligible, as the resistance is mainly influenced by gravity. For example, bodyweight and weightlifting training have constant resistance. On the other hand, variable resistances, like elastic or pneumatic resistances, vary their resistance depending on the position of the athlete within the range of motion (ROM). Finally, accommodating resistances, like viscose, isokinetic, hydraulic and inertial resistances, depend on the velocity, torque and acceleration of the movement.

All these resistances mimic the range of motions and actions we normally do in our daily lives. Therefore, having a rehabilitation path that includes a workout with all the different resistances the athlete may encounter is instrumental towards a smooth return to play.

In this perspective, technological innovation in strength training concerns equipment that use a motor and an electronic management system to generate adaptive resistance adjustments in response to the kinematic parameters of movement. Within the range of motion, any desired resistance profile can, in theory, be designed to emphasize muscle activity in a particular portion of the ROM or unload specific joint structures.

To that end, Technogym displayed during the workshop elements of Biocircuit, the interconnected circuit training with state of the art technology in resistance training. Biocircuit not only can replicate all of the aforementioned resistances, but can also create a new type of resistance: Hybrid resistance.

Hybrid resistance for rehabilitation in sports
This resistance, generated by the motor inside Biocircuit, changes its nature during the movement. This is especially useful when it comes to rehabilitation from muscle injuries. In fact, this hybrid resistance begins as an inertial resistance (constant resistance) and ends as a non-inertial resistance (variable resistance) during the concentric phase, and in an opposite fashion during the eccentric one. Hybrid resistance allows the injured athlete to perform his movement in all safety, and to be supported during the painful range of motion.

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