Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 215 - 224

Research article
Reliability of the Elliptical Zone Method of Estimating Body Segment Parameters of Swimmers
Ross H. Sanders1,2, , Chuang-Yuan Chiu1, Tomohiro Gonjo1, Jacki Thow1, Nuno Oliveira1, Stelios G. Psycharakis1, Carl J. Payton3, Carla B. McCabe1,4
Author Information
1 Centre for Aquatics Research and Education, ISPEHS, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
2 Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
3 Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
4 Ulster Sports Academy, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, UK

Ross H. Sanders
‚úČ Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Cumberland Campus, C42 75, East St, NSW, 2006, Australia.
Publish Date
Received: 24-06-2014
Accepted: 10-12-2014
Published (online): 01-03-2015

Due to the difficulty of measuring forces and torques acting on a swimmer during mid-pool swimming, an inverse dynamics approach is required. Personalised body segment parameter (BSP) data enabling calculation of net forces and torques can be obtained using the elliptical zone method. The purpose of this study was to establish the reliability of estimating BSP data of swimmers by the elliptical zone method with segment outlines being traced manually on a personal computer screen. Five assessors digitised the segment landmarks and traced the body segments from front and side view digital photographs of 11 single arm amputee swimmers. Each swimmer was assessed five times by each of the five assessors. The order was fully randomised. Within assessor variability was less than 5% for the segment centre of mass position of all segments, for segment length except the neck (5.2%), and for segment mass except neck (11.9%), hands (Left: 8.1%; Right: 5.8%) and feet (Left: 7.3%; Right: 7.3%). Analysis of mean variability within and between assessors indicated that between assessor variability was generally as large or larger than within assessor variability. Consequently it is recommended that when seeking personalised BSP data to maximise the accuracy of derived kinetics and sensitivity for longitudinal and bilateral within-subject comparisons the individual should be assessed by the same assessor with mean values obtained from five repeat digitisations. This study established that using the elliptical zone method using E-Zone software is a reliable and convenient way of obtaining personalised BSP data for use in analysis of swimming.

Key words: Anthropometry, elliptical zone, error, inverse dynamics, reliability, Paralympic, swimming

           Key Points
  • A unique (not been attempted previously) study of reliability of calculating personalised Body Segment Parameter (BSP) data using the elliptical zone method
  • Establishes benchmark data regarding the reliability of BSP data for comparison with emerging technologies for obtaining personalised BSP data non-invasively.
  • Provides a description and guidelines for good practice for maximising the accuracy of derived kinematics and kinetics in swimming.
  • The method of body modelling described can also be applied to studies in other sports and in assessing change in health status related to body shape characteristics for sport and non-sport populations.
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