Estimation of temporal parameters during sprint running using a trunk-mounted inertial measurement unit

Elena Bergamini, Pietro Picerno, Hélène Pillet, Françoise Natta, Patricia Thoreux, Valentina Camomilla
Journal of Biomechanics 2012 April 5, 45 (6): 1123-6
The purpose of this study was to identify consistent features in the signals supplied by a single inertial measurement unit (IMU), or thereof derived, for the identification of foot-strike and foot-off instants of time and for the estimation of stance and stride duration during the maintenance phase of sprint running. Maximal sprint runs were performed on tartan tracks by five amateur and six elite athletes, and durations derived from the IMU data were validated using force platforms and a high-speed video camera, respectively, for the two groups. The IMU was positioned on the lower back trunk (L1 level) of each athlete. The magnitudes of the acceleration and angular velocity vectors measured by the IMU, as well as their wavelet-mediated first and second derivatives were computed, and features related to foot-strike and foot-off events sought. No consistent features were found on the acceleration signal or on its first and second derivatives. Conversely, the foot-strike and foot-off events could be identified from features exhibited by the second derivative of the angular velocity magnitude. An average absolute difference of 0.005 s was found between IMU and reference estimates, for both stance and stride duration and for both amateur and elite athletes. The 95% limits of agreement of this difference were less than 0.025 s. The results proved that a single, trunk-mounted IMU is suitable to estimate stance and stride duration during sprint running, providing the opportunity to collect information in the field, without constraining or limiting athletes' and coaches' activities.

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