A ‘force plate’ or ‘force platform’ (these terms are used interchangeably) is a device used to measure forces exerted onto the ground by a person as they perform a movement or exercise.
Force plates use sensors to measure these forces, much like a set of bathroom scales, just with significantly higher strength, capacity and accuracy. The most common type of sensor used in this application are strain gauge load cells.
Force plates & Newton’s third law of motion
Newton’s third law of motion can be used to explain how forces are measured on force plates.
Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction.
In this context, the force a person applies to the ground is met with an opposing ground reaction force (GRF). ForceDecks plates measure data in the vertical (v) axis and generate raw left and right limb (vGRF) output, which is summed to generate total vertical force upon which acceleration, velocity and derivatives are then calculated.
As force is applied to the plate, the sensors become distorted – not enough to be seen by eye, but enough to cause a voltage change in their specially-designed circuits. These circuits are designed such that a change in voltage is relative to the amount of force applied, meaning that force data can be measured and collected accurately over time. These outputs are transmitted to a computer as raw force-time data, which is then used to analyse movement strategy and performance.
Force plates in a clinical setting
Classically, jump performance output metrics have been used to track adaptation corresponding to strength, power, speed, and/or plyometric training.
The ForceDecks system allows practitioners to use these metrics, but also provides valuable information on the unique movement strategy of each client (i.e. the process of how an individual generates vertical force, power, velocity, etc).
Such testing can also be performed under different loading conditions to assess force, power, and velocity relationships to generate a more complete performance profile and to gain a greater understanding of a client’s movement strategy and changes over time.
ForceDecks: see our full range
Previously, force plates were limited to laboratories and elite sporting teams. Now, we have created force plates that are both lightweight and portable, with the ability to provide objective data on strength and imbalance.
Whether your clinic treats musculoskeletal, neurological, orthopedic, geriatric or sports conditions, ForceDecks enables you to monitor rehabilitation progress and injury risk, collect baseline data, and improve performance.