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Science for Skaters

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times about research that's being done into why skaters are getting injured and how to help them.

One of the studies by Kat Arbour at University of Delaware uses a tibial accelerameter on skaters' shins, which measures force of impact during a jump.

But she said study results suggested that the issue was not jumping itself, but how well jumps were executed. "If someone is really proficient, they seem to be able to modify their technique to decrease the impact, use muscles differently to absorb that shock," she said.

Wow, there is yet another case for skaters to perfect their techniques! That research also has a goal of helping to figure out which type of boot might be best.

Some more research:

Ms. Arbour, of the University of Delaware, has skaters, wearing swimsuits and nose clips, climb into the "bod pod," an egglike capsule measuring fat and muscle composition. A "bone densitometer" analyzes bone density, which tends to increase with frequent impacts.

"If it’s low, they are at risk for stress fractures in the legs and lumbar spine," she said. "If it’s too high, they are at risk for osteoarthritis because the cartilage is taking a lot of shock absorption."

With Professor Provost-Craig, Ms. Arbour also outfits skaters with "a crazy dungeon thing that goes over the mouth and nose," measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide in air skaters expel.

Provost-Craig plans to study whether certain jumps create such a physical impact that skaters should put off learning them until they are older. Good luck getting the skaters to take it easy on jumping!

Some of the other topics are skate sharpening, off-ice training, and programs with motion-capture cameras that pinpoint where jumping goes wrong. This is definitely worth a read!

Here is another NYT article that just delves into skate sharpening.