Polar Opposites Working Together
Technology and sport go hand in hand. At the Canadian Sport Institute Calgary (CSI Calgary), the intersection between the two is realized on a regular basis, through applied sport science that directly impacts athletic performance. Sport scientists and athletes rely on accurate and validated methods, equipment and protocols to enhance and optimize training and performance.
But it’s not just about going with the flow, at CSI Calgary it’s about supporting new research and innovation and helping the sport product industry develop and refine new technology. The Sport Product Testing group at CSI Calgary offers a unique combination of product performance evaluation, safety assessment and usability testing for the health and sporting goods industries.
Pro Stergiou, Manager, Sport Product Testing at CSI Calgary, says the Sport Product Testing program “leads to knowledge that is directly applicable to athletes in their daily training environment.”
Recently, the Sport Product Testing group did research for Polar, a Finnish company that makes a variety of sport and exercise training devices like heart rate monitors and bike computers. The goal of the study was to validate the accuracy of a wrist-based, optical sensor to measure heartrate, as compared to ECG, which measures heartrate through electrical activity of the heart.
The research, authored by John Horton, Project Coordinator of the Sport Product Testing program was published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal and showed that the optical sensor was accurate for steady-state activities like cycling or running, but less accurate for exercise intensity changes, like interval training or weightlifting. Stergiou says that these results are useful to both Polar and the athletes using the product.
Olympic bronze medalist in bobsleigh, Lyndon Rush, who now coaches the Canadian bobsleigh team, was a product tester in the Polar study. He says that the opportunity to participate in the study gave him some good ideas about how he could use heartrate monitoring for his athletes, and which sensor he would rely on to measure it accurately.
Rush says that through this kind of research CSI Calgary is helping new technology become more accessible to athletes by being able to test different products and use them to optimize training and recovery. He also says it’s a huge benefit to companies like Polar to have access to the calibre of athletes from CSI Calgary for the studies. “When people think and say ‘Olympian’, there is something special behind that,” he says.
With the explosion of new sport technology in the marketplace, like activity monitors, high performance athletes, weekend warriors and the general population are looking for products that accurately reflect their activity levels and heartrate. CSI Calgary is well-positioned to provide the kind of quality research that will validate a product’s quality.
CSI Calgary remains neutral and independent in the research, which is critical to maintaining its integrity and repeatability. Stergiou says that clients like Polar understand and respect the scientific process and are ultimately dedicated to providing the best possible products to their customers.
Product testing represents an opportunity for CSI Calgary to partner with companies in a different way. Stergiou knows that what CSI Calgary offers is unique and valuable. “The quality of the research we’ve done, and the calibre of the athletes we can use for sport product testing sets CSI Calgary apart.”
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto