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The Power of EMG in Measuring Metabolic Power and Energy Cost

In the high-stakes world of professional team sport, optimizing performance through precise measurement and tailored training is crucial. Traditional methods using GPS and IMU technologies provide valuable insights but are not capturing the full picture of an athlete's metabolic and neuromuscular engagement during high-intensity efforts. Enter electromyography (EMG), a promising tool that can revolutionize how performance coaches assess and enhance their players' training regimes.

Power and energy cost calculated using Myontec EMG are superior over GPS-IMU data.

The Study: A Deeper Look into Sprinting Demands

A recent study involving sixteen elite U17 male soccer players explored the metabolic power (MP) and energy cost (EC) of submaximal and sprint running efforts using both GPS-IMU and EMG technologies. By comparing these methods, the researchers aimed to determine the most accurate way to measure the true demands placed on athletes during intense physical activities.

The players performed four different submaximal constant running efforts and sprinting actions, wearing portable GPS-IMU units and surface EMG shorts. This setup allowed for real-time data collection of both velocity and muscle activation. The study found significant differences between the GPS-derived and EMG-derived measurements, suggesting that EMG might offer a more comprehensive understanding of an athlete's performance.

(a) Back view of the sensor placement; (b) GPS unit; (c) EMG shorts equipped with textile electrodes with 6 differential EMG biosignal channels.

Why Myontec EMG Matters for Performance?

1. Detailed Muscle Activation (EMG) Insights

Myontec EMG technology captures muscle activation patterns with a high degree of accuracy. This study revealed that during submaximal runs, muscle activation increased linearly with speed, but during sprints, the relationship became exponential. This exponential increase indicates a higher metabolic cost during sprints than what GPS-IMU alone could predict.

Metabolic power calculated via GPS and EMG methods during the linear 50 m sprint.

For performance coaches and sport analytics, this means Myontec EMG can pinpoint the specific muscle groups that are under the most stress during different phases of running. This information is invaluable for designing targeted strength and conditioning programs that address the unique demands of sprinting and high-intensity efforts in soccer.

2. Accurate Measurement of Metabolic Power and Energy Cost

The study showed that the metabolic power (MP) and energy cost (EC) calculated using Myontec EMG were more reflective of the actual neuromuscular engagement during sprints compared to GPS-IMU measurements. For instance, significant differences in MP were observed in several sprint intervals (e.g., 0-5 m, 25-30 m), highlighting that GPS-IMU often underestimates the true metabolic demands.

Energy cost calculated via GPS and EMG methods during the linear 50 m sprint.

This precision allows performance coaches and analytics to better understand the energy expenditure of their athletes and tailor training loads accordingly. By accurately measuring MP and EC, coaches can avoid overtraining, enhance recovery strategies, and optimize performance gains.

3. Enhanced Training and Recovery Protocols

With Myontec EMG, performance coaches can develop more effective training programs that not only focus on improving speed and endurance but also consider the neuromuscular load on athletes. Understanding the accurate EMG/force ratio, which changes from a linear to a polynomial trend during longer sprints, coaches can fine-tune training sessions to build resilience and reduce injury risk.

Moreover, Myontec technology can help in monitoring fatigue levels and ensuring athletes are not pushed beyond their limits. By integrating Myontec EMG data into recovery protocols, coaches can provide personalized recovery plans that promote quicker muscle repair and overall athlete well-being.

This article is based on the study made by Gabriele Grassadonia, Pedro E Alcaraz and Tomás T Freitas, Comparison of Metabolic Power and Energy Cost of Submaximal and Sprint Running Efforts Using Different Methods in Elite Youth Soccer Players: A Novel Energetic Approach, published in Sensors in April 2024 

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