Category Archives: Health and Fitness

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Marshall Newhouse Wants to Change the Perception of What Athletes Can Be

SportTechie’s new series features the views and opinions of the athletes who use and are powered by technology.As part of this series, SportTechie talked to Marshall Newhouse about what he has learned from wearable devices, his interest in technology, and his post-NFL business plans.
To be the first to hear each athlete’s insights, subscribe to the Athletes Voice newsletter. And visit the Athletes Voice page to read the whole series.
Marshall Newhouse is a veteran offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers, with prior stops playing for the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers. He won the Super Bowl with the Packers as a rookie, and later became the team’s starting left tackle charged with protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side.
He studied advertising and public relations at TCU, graduating in 2010. Newhouse lists “entrepreneur” first on his Twitter profile, even ahead of “Super Bowl Champ.” He lives in Austin in the offseason, and in 2017 he joined a SXSW panel on the intersection between technology, fashion, and politics.
The Use of Wearables
“There’s a nonstop kind of assault in that area for athletes, whatever you want. Whether it’s heart monitoring, GPS, biometrics, sweat—there’s a litany of stuff. I haven’t been an early adopter for a lot of stuff. I’ve known about it, but I haven’t actually implemented it into my routine because I’m so habitual.
“Offensive line is a unique position. It’s still misunderstood by a lot of people who do football stuff for a living. That applies directly to GPS, too. We’re in a stance. Sometimes we’ve moving backwards or applying force in different ways biomechanically. Sometimes we’re moving forward pushing things or pushing other players. And sometimes we are flat-out running, but it’s not as fast or as linear as other positions, so it’s harder to track.
“What they tracked when we had it, it was just distance covered. As a lineman, if I’m covering a ton of distance, most likely I’m running a lot, and that means there’s an exponentially larger wear and tear on my body. They use that data for recovery. I’d be interested to see what Catapult’s doing as far as fine-tuning that to what a lineman does on a play-by-play basis, factoring in his weight and how much force he’s producing and how that affects how he breaks down over a practice, a game, or a season.”
Heart Rate and Sleep Monitoring
“I’ve learned how unique everyone’s body is and how it reacts to stress and stressors and how that affects your performance. When you read a chart after you’ve worn a heart-rate monitor, you realize where you’re peaking, where you’re having lulls, and where your body’s freaking out a little bit. You learn about stuff that you knew innately, but you could never really translate it into a language of sorts and a way to actually apply it.
“I’m 29 and have been playing for nine years, so there’s a lot of stuff I wish I had known when I was in college about my stamina, my explosion, my output, or even what day of the week to hit legs, or when after a hard practice to get stretched—all those little things that go into fine-tuning how an athlete performs.
“I’m a terrible sleeper, and I absolutely knew it. I had actually been tested a few times for sleep apnea, and every time they tell me that I have a mild case but not bad enough to need a CPAP machine. I have known for a decade now that I don’t sleep through the night, but eventually I hope something comes along that helps me with that. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m an offensive lineman and we play at an unnatural weight.”

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Origin of His Interest in Tech
“My dad’s a computer programmer, so we built PCs back in the day. Tech’s been in my blood. I used to play video games all the time, and I briefly did it for small amounts of money because I thought I was cool, not knowing that there would eventually be esports. I used to watch the old TechTV nonstop. I’ve always been interested in tech, not really thinking it could be a career choice especially because I was focused on football, but that’s always been a hobby of mine.
“I used to play a lot of CounterStrike back in junior high, high school—probably more than I needed to, if you ask my parents. Then I transitioned off that to console gaming. I’ve been wanting another [PC]. I’m waiting until I retire to get in one place and I’ll probably get back into it.”
Entrepreneurship
“Earlier in my career, I had a lot of good advice and good advisers in my life—from my parents to other people—about something as accessible as real estate. I’ve got residential properties, I’ve gotten involved in small [limited partnerships] for shopping malls, strip centers, and commercial real estate. That exposure jogs your business mind and gets you thinking on a different level about your return on your investment and about how you go into those situations.
“It’s just a constant learning process that transitions into other avenues of business, whether that’s tech, [consumer packaged goods], food and beverage, or stuff like that. That was my first foray, and I still do real estate. The goal is to have that in the background, churning and making money, eventually for my kids to take over. That was my initial interest in getting into it, especially in Texas, which is so real estate- and business-friendly.”
(Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CES 2018
“I had a mentor of mine, Ryan Nece, lead me around. He runs a venture fund in Silicon Valley, and we just spent four, five days out there—going to booths, talking to start-up founders, venture CEOs, and just immersing myself as much as possible with people in that industry.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s like a flash-bang grenade of the entire industry in one place. On top of that, it’s in Las Vegas. I stayed for the first day in the health tech side, which kind of ties directly into sports and what I do on a daily basis.
“There were a bunch of virtual reality booths, augmented reality booths that, as we’re seeing, are going to revolutionize what you can accomplish in sports as far as rehab, as far as prehab, as far as taking players’ games to the next level. There was a big shift to biometrics and health monitoring. There’s a company called Orig3n—they do a lot of blood testing. They’ve got a partnership with the 49ers, I believe. “
Life After Football
“I did a week at a business summit in New York City [in February] put on by Kaleb Thornhill called Athletes Transition University. He works for the Miami Dolphins, and it’s a way to help NFL players plan for the future and plan for whatever business looks like for them, either while they’re still playing or when football’s done.
“It’s been awesome meeting other players who are doing great things in business and have high expectations for themselves – either in tech and investing like me or in different ways. From a guy like Kelvin Beachum who’s all over the place and just killing it—he’s doing an incredible job in business while also executing his day job, which is football. Or a guy like Ndamukong Suh, who’s really involved. His involvements are less public, but he’s got a lot going on behind the scenes. Then there’s a guy like Justin Forsett who’s literally got a company right now called ShowerPill, which is now sold at Target stores nationwide.
“A lot of athletes are out there doing incredible things in business, and I don’t think it gets talked about enough. These guys are pillars in the community. They’re doing amazing work in the nonprofit sector to give back while also working hard as leaders and innovators – all on top of being professional athletes. I don’t think I’m doing anything particularly unique, but I do want to be a part of changing that public perception of what athletes can do and can be.”

Marshall Newhouse reviewed this content before publication.


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Man U, Canon Medical Develop Performance Imaging in Partnership

Manchester United, the global soccer giant and perennial English Premier League contender, has renewed its partnership with Canon Medical Systems Europe. The company continues as the team’s official medical systems partner, and the sophisticated use of its imaging technology promises to offer the Red Devils a competitive advantage.
Canon, perhaps best known for its advanced photography equipment, acquired Toshiba Medical in 2016. Under terms of the initial partnership struck with Man U in 2013, Toshiba had installed advanced imaging technology—including CT, MRI, and ultrasound machines—at the club’s medical center at the Aon Training Complex. This new agreement includes an expansion of medical services, including more cardiac and general health screenings.
“During the past six years, our partnership has redefined the standard for medical imaging in elite sport,” said Dr. Steve McNally, Manchester United’s head of sports medicine and science, in a statement. “Daily access to state-of-the-art equipment and intelligent technologies has improved responsiveness to clinical presentations. Most importantly, we have developed a concept of ‘performance imaging’ over and above clinical diagnostics.
“By utilizing innovative techniques borne out of shared ideas and experiences from Canon Medical’s wider network of experts, we can now profile and monitor our players in ways we have never done before. This not only enhances athlete health and safety but also provides invaluable information to guide the athletic development process. As part of the partnership, we have also shared data that will assist in improving health services for the general public.”
SportTechie Takeaway
Manchester United’s 2018-19 payroll is said to be £137.3 million ($177.7 million), per Spotrac, so keeping players healthy is, of course, of great consequence. What’s unique here is McNally’s comment about “performance imaging.” The ability to improve physical development goes beyond medical assessments and taps a new frontier for this screening technology.


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Athletigen and Altis Seek to Turn DNA Insights Into Coaching Advice

Genetic information will soon be a standard part of sports, used to customize training, personalize nutrition, and even to identify talent. Over the last few years, DNA analysis firm Athletigen and elite track and field training facility Altis have been working together to explore and develop that future.
Through collaboration, both Altis and Athletigen have been hoping to gain a head start in this race, learning what genetic information is important and how to convert that into actionable insights. A new product launched by Athletigen on Tuesday, the Altis Sport Performance Report, is hoping to bring some of what the two organizations have learned to consumers, both pro and amateur.
Altis’s athletes have been the lab rats that Athletigen can study, a population of highly fit individuals who closely follow training and nutrition protocols, generating accurate data that give context to the results from genetic testing. John Godina, a three-time Olympian who founded Altis in 2013, describes his organization as something between a training center and an educational and research institute. “[Altis] is a great science lab,” he said. “It gives us a chance to do stuff in a controlled environment that can benefit all kinds of different people.”
More than a dozen Altis-trained athletes competed at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse, who brought home silver from the 200m and bronze from both the 100m and 4x100m relay. Athletigen would not confirm which Altis athletes have been screened, citing privacy concerns, but the number reaches above 100. Through Altis’s apprentice coach program, Athletigen has also engaged with hundreds of coaches, and, by extension, may have impacted the training of thousands of athletes.
Akeem Haynes with his bronze medal. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
Akeem Haynes, a teammate of de Grasse both at Altis and in the 4x100m relay at Rio 2016, is quoted on Athletigen’s website about his experience with genetic testing. “Athletigen gave me different insight, gave me a slight edge … Anywhere an athlete can have a slight edge is huge.” (Haynes received financial support from Athletigen in the run up to the Games.)
When the sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2003, that effort had taken 13 years and cost $2.7 billion. Athletigen now charges $199 and takes four to six weeks to scan a person’s DNA for the different gene variants used in the Altis report. (The company scans for more than 850,000 gene variants, but the majority of these are not yet associated with athletic performance or ability.)
While Athletigen has previously offered athletes DNA-based advice, the new report is the first that is specifically tailored as a result of its work with Altis. The report offers information and advice based on more than 50 gene variants related to 22 different relevant traits, from fat metabolism to muscle growth, and caffeine sensitivity to error avoidance. Athletes are given information on how their gene variant might affect each trait, details on how common a variant is in the general population, an explanation of each gene’s role, and advice on how this knowledge could be used to adjust training, recovery, and nutrition. The aim of the report, according to CEO and cofounder Jeremy Koenig, has been to combine his company’s genetics knowledge with Atlis’s coaching experience and training recommendations.
Athletigen also includes a scientific confidence level for each trait. The highest confidence, A, requires the gene variant-to-trait association to have been tested in at least three independent studies of at least 1,000 individuals. One or more of those studies needs to have considered different ethnic groups.

Athletigen looks for genetic variations that are known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs (“snips”). These are changes in a single base—the DNA letters A, C, G, and T—at a specific location, but they can also indicate larger substitutions in sections of the surrounding code. An example is the rs1815739 SNP on the ACTN3 gene of chromosome 11. This gene encodes a protein called alpha-actinin-3, which is found only in fast-twitch muscle fibers. But when the usual C at the rs1815739 location is switched out with a T, production of the protein is disrupted, favoring slow-twitch fibers instead.
Theoretically, having the CC genotype, one letter for each of the relevant bases on the maternal and paternal copies of chromosome 11, should confer an advantage in power sports—that variant has become known as the “sprint gene.” But most people with the sprint gene are not sprinters, and not all sprinters have the sprint gene. Combining various studies together implies that as many as 25% of the US population could have that variant.
Those statistics create a problem for direct-to-consumer genetic testing in sports: the sprint gene seems to be neither essential to, nor predictive of, athletic destiny. In 2015, many of the sports-genetics research initiatives being run by universities around the globe were unified under the banner of the Athlome Project, an enterprise reminiscent of the idea that started this all, the Human Genome Project. The group of 24 leading researchers behind the Athlome Project published a consensus statement in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that November warning that “genetics tests have no role to play in talent identification or the individualised prescription of training to maximise performance.” A year later, the Australian Institute of Sport echoed that opinion in the same journal, and an article by Rebecca Robbins published on STAT in November 2016 warned of this growth of genetic testing in sports, expressing concern that the science might not yet back the claims companies are making.

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Genetic variants are only classified as SNPs if they occur within at least one percent of the population, “and everything that’s present in more than one percent of the population can’t be that bad,” explained Mikael Mattsson, an exercise physiologist and researcher in a genetics lab at Stanford University. (Mattsson was also a contributor to the BJSM consensus statement against genetic testing in sports.) “And if it can’t be that bad, it can’t be super good, either.” Each SNP might also only contribute a small amount to any one trait, so to accurately determine the genetic impact on that trait could require studying tens if not hundreds of relevant SNPs.
According to Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., “We’ve jumped the gun by taking these soft markers and making too much out of them.” The problem, Topol explained, is that our ability to test for SNPs far outstrips our knowledge of their importance.

Coaches at Altis arrived at a similar conclusion to the BJSM consensus statement: There is virtually zero value in tests for variants of ACTN3. “We can look at the ACTN3 gene, and if you don’t have that, there’s nothing much we can do about it,” said Altis CEO Stuart McMillan. “So it’s not going to affect what we do in the least.”
Jeremy Koenig, who left a research job developing fertility screens at Performance Genomics to found Athletigen, emphasizes that his company has no interest in talent identification, and that sports genetics shouldn’t be about classifying gene variants as either good or bad. “You can’t really pass or fail a genetic test,” he explained.
Koenig calls DNA “our collective technology,” and lists the philosopher Alan Watts as one of his thought idols. “Things are as they are,” Watts once said. “Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
Athletigen DNA analysis kit. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
Koenig believes that the information extracted from Athletigen’s analysis can be empowering, whether or not it seems to show a genetic advantage or disadvantage. He is also careful to meter any expectations of what the results might hint at. “In some incidences we’re very confident [in the science], and in others it’s early days,” he said. “That comes back to the scientific process. Part of that scientific process is being transparent with the state of the research.”
“We’re certainly not in a space where dark chocolate and red wine are good for you one day, and the next day they’re not.”
Koenig ran track at Dalhousie University, competing in the 60m indoor sprint. He has also worked as a strength and conditioning coach, mostly with hockey players. Past clients have included former NHL players James Sheppard and Sean O’Donnell. Boston Bruins two-time All-Star Brad Marchand is quoted on Athletigen’s webpage. “In today’s NHL, simply working hard is not enough. Using Athletigen ensures that I am exhausting my efforts in the right direction. Knowing my genetics means that there is no wasted effort.”

Though Altis predominantly works with track and field athletes, Koenig sees the knowledge gained from the partnership as being relevant across all athletic disciplines. “Track and field is the foundation for all sports,” he explained.
At its core, Athletigen is a social technology company. The more athletes who sign up, the more powerful Athletigen’s database will become. Even the most ardent critics of direct-to-consumer sports genetics see huge potential in that. “In the future they might build their database and do the analysis from their data, which could be very beneficial,” Mattsson said.
“If we got the really extreme phenotype—top notch athletes—and we sequenced them,” Topol said, “we eventually will learn.”
Jeremy Koenig talks at an Altis apprentice coach program seminar. (Courtesy of Athletigen)
And Koenig emphasizes the partnership with coaches has become a key part of his company’s platform. According to Dan Pfaff, Altis’s head coach who has experience coaching athletes at 10 different Olympic Games, “Athletigen showed me how DNA can be used to help people achieve world-class performance.”
The new Altis report is designed to provide recommendations from Altis’s coaching staff based on insight on an athlete’s genetics gleaned from Athletigen’s analysis. For those who wish to know more, the report also includes videos of seminars from Altis’s apprenticeship coaching program. The aim, according to Koenig, is to combine genetics and coaching expertise without overwriting tried-and-true training methodologies. “[Not just] How do we get this into the hands of athletes,” Koenig said, “but how do we do it in a way that benefits them.”
As much as each athlete might be interested in his or her personal genetic score, Athletigen’s real product might be the community itself.


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New York City Marathon Builds Wheelchair-Accessible Interactive Video Game

The New York City Marathon will have a new videogame on display this weekend that will enable people, including those in wheelchairs, to race one another in place using a Dance Dance Revolution-like touchpad.
The interactive game, which will be set-up near the finish line in Manhattan’s Central Park, was created by NYC Marathon sponsor TCS, which is behind a number of new NYC Marathon app upgrades this year, including behind-the-scenes prediction software for race winners.
Called Marathon City, the game will match up two players at a time, who will be able to pick from a selection of avatars, including avatars in wheelchairs. They’ll race through a digital rendering of the final 200 meters of the NYC Marathon course in Central Park.

On the screen, runners will use controller pads at their feet and will run in place to propel their characters. This is similar to the way a gamer might have used the Nintendo Power Pad in the 1990’s to race avatars on the original Nintendo, or the way dancers might compete in arcades.
There’s also a mechanism for people in wheelchairs that acts as a sort-of bike trainer, allowing them to spin in place. TCS engineers adjusted the calibrations so that a person in a wheelchair will moves more slowly than they would in real life, allowing those on their feet to compete.

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Michelle Taylor, head of sports sponsorships at TCS, said the game will likely find its way to New York Road Runners’ youth programs as part of a broader effort to promote health and fitness. The wheelchair accessibility is also part of both organizations’ efforts to promote inclusiveness, especially since the marathon already has a wheelchair division.
“It’s really opened up a conversation about inclusion in gaming,” Taylor said. “We wanted it to be inclusive, so we created wheeler avatars, and we wanted to have a way for them to participate in the game in an authentic way.”

When TCS began developing Marathon City, it found few other games, especially active games, that accommodated people of different abilities. Though the game was tricky and expensive to build out, Taylor said TCS and the marathon believe it was well-worth the investment.
“From what we can tell, it’s one of the first games that have been adapted for wheelchair input,” she said. “We’re excited to test it out, to get some kids on it, and hopefully get some pro-athlete wheelers into the game and have fun with it.”


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Kevin Love Will Host Web Series to Promote Mental Health

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love opened up to the media last year about his personal encounters with anxiety and depression, hoping to create better understanding in society about mental health. Love will now host his own web series dedicated to discussing healthy masculinity sponsored by shaving brand Schick Hydro.
Swimmer Michael Phelps and NBA veteran’s Paul Pierce and Channing Frye will join Love as guests on the series, titled Locker Room Talk. The show will generate conversations surrounding what positive masculinity means today. Locker Room Talk’s 54-second trailer premiered last Thursday on the Schick Hydro website and YouTube channel.
“I am grateful to have been chosen by Schick Hydro to host Locker Room Talk in hopes of shining a light on issues of masculinity that impact all men,” said Kevin Love in a press release. “Through this new series, I hope that together, we can inspire all men to embrace their own version of positive masculinity.”
A new episode will be released each week throughout November. Locker Room Talk will also encourage donations to the Movember Foundation and Kevin Love Fund through online fundraising platform Omaze. Those who donate at least $10 will be eligible to hang out with Love and receive VIP access to the Cavaliers v. Utah Jazz game on Jan. 4.
Love’s one-on-one discussion with Phelps will air during the week of Nov. 5. The following week will feature Love’s teammate and close friend Frye, who will talk about the importance of teamwork and teaching his kids that there is nothing wrong with showing emotions. Locker Room Talk concludes during the week of Nov. 19 when Pierce will discuss how “locker room talk” has evolved throughout his 19-year playing career.
“We chose to feature Love, Phelps, Pierce, and Frye because they are all true to themselves,” said Patrick Kane, group segment director, men’s shave at Edgewell Personal Care, in the press release. “Each of these athletes achieved the highest levels of success, while helping shape the conversation around what healthy masculinity looks like today.”
SportTechie Takeaway
Love was encouraged to pen a deeply personal article in The Players’ Tribune last year about his own battles with mental health (including an in-game panic attack during the Cavs’ 2017-18 regular season) after fellow NBA-star Demar Derozan spoke to the Toronto Star about his bouts with depression. The world of new media has given athletes unprecedented access to partnering with brands or starting their own media platforms to spread important messages.


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San Jose Earthquakes Teammates Are Tracking Steps for Doctors Without Borders

As fullbacks playing on the left and right wings for the San Jose Earthquakes, Shea Salinas and Nick Lima are expected not only to defend but also complement the attack. “No one works harder than us out there,” the two friends say to each other in training. 
The GPS data collected from their STATSports devices objectively affirm that mantra. Lima is a little faster, but Salinas consistently covers more distance. Both log steep training loads.
That drive has carried over into everyday life this month. Lima and Salinas have joined front office employees in a step-tracking charitable contest. Organized by Earthquakes partner Avaya the competition aims to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.
With two days remaining in the monthlong competition, Salinas has taken 345,024 steps compared to Lima’s 314,680, a lead of more than 30,000 over his teammate. Then again, Salinas, who is 32, has three clear advantages over Lima, 23. Salinas has two young children (ages four and two) to chase and one home to remodel, which means tiling floors and all sorts of cleaning.
“You get a lot more steps on those days,” Salinas said. “I rarely get to sit down and take a nap. Not rarely. I never get to sit down and take a nap. So my watch is always counting, unlike Nick’s. Nick’s probably gets a little bit of rest in the afternoon.”
As if this point needed any emphasis, his son’s voice could be heard in the background of a phone call. Salinas reported that he was in the backyard, waving a flag around at his son’s request.

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Both track their daily steps via Apple Watches and have synced their STATSports data as well. The two are among the few Earthquakes players to wear the trackers in games. Lima pays special attention to the number of sprints he makes in a game and the duration of those sprints, as well as top speed and total mileage. Salinas said he’ll run as many as 12,500 meters (7.8 miles) in a match.
“If I’m under 11,000 meters in a game, I know that, man, I probably wasn’t working as hard as I could have and wasn’t making as many runs as I could have,” Salinas said. “Sometimes, games dictate how much you run, but I like to be around that 11,000-meter mark every game.”
Salinas grew up running cross country and said he always wore a watch to keep track of his times, only back then it was a simple Timex rather than the Apple Watch and its FDA-grade heart monitor. He is cognizant of his age in this young man’s sport and has made additional lifting a priority—so much so that he said that his GPS has down his speed increase over the past few years.
“My body definitely takes a little bit longer to recover from a game than it used to,” Salinas said. “It takes me a little bit longer to warm up for a practice than it used to. But I’m just thankful that, once I do get warm and once I am recovered, I feel like I can still hang, if not beat, a lot of the young guys.”
Nick Lima. (ISI Photos)
Lima, on the other hand, is just starting his career. He was a nominee for both MLS Defender of the Year and Rookie of the Year in 2017. Back in January 2018, he received a call-up to the U.S. national team for a friendly, although he did not play in the match. He called the GPS data “very telling” from a macro level, allowing him to monitor his workload and react accordingly.
The two also compare their match data so that they have an objective measure of their exertion on either flank of the pitch.
“We always make it a thing for myself and him to be the hardest workers,” Lima said. “We’re always trying to push each other to do that. There’s definitely good that comes from it in the game in having the data to see after and know if our motivation toward each other is working.”
The steps competition has inspired some friendly banter as the two compare their steps and ultimately, they hope, some help for good causes. Not only are they raising money for Doctors Without Borders, but Salinas also wants the publicity to resonate with the members of Get Earthquakes Fit, a club program to encourage children to eat healthy, stay active, and do well in school.
“It just blows my mind how much little kids sit in front of screens these days,” Salinas said. “Part of my hope by doing this, some teenagers and some kids see that these guys move a lot more than even I do.”


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Mammut Launches MIPS Climbing Helmet to Protect Against Rotational Impacts

Outdoor equipment maker Mammut has launched a new climbing helmet that incorporates the multi-directional impact protection system, which is designed to reduce rotational forces during impact.
While there are a number of MIPS helmets on the market today, including bike and ski helmets that climbers have adapted to their sport, Swiss-based Mammut said its Wall Rider MIPS is the world’s first MIPS-integrated helmet targeted specifically at climbing.
“As one of the oldest and most respected outdoors brands in the world, Mammut has not forgotten its history as inventor of the climbing rope, revolutionizing the way that outdoors-people perform and achieve goals and successes through the centuries, and today,” the company said in a statement.

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MIPS is a patented technology located inside helmets that is designed to reduce rotational forces caused by certain impacts, in this case such as tumbling rocks or falls. Rotational acceleration has been found to be the predominant injury mechanism in concussion. The MIPS system consists of an internal layer flexibly attached to the external part of the helmet. When the Wall Rider MIPS is subjected to an angled impact, the external part of the helmet can then slide slightly relative to the head. A portion of the rotational forces and energies are therefore redirected and absorbed rather than being transferred to the brain.
Andres Lietha, head of hardware at Mammut Sports, said many of the company’s developers and product managers are climbers and mountain bikers.
“So we started to ask us the obvious question, how can we add the safety MIPS offers to climbers also?” he said in the press release. “We did in-depth research and found data showcasing that a significant part of head injuries in climbing also result from a rotational impact.”
The new Wall Rider, which clocks in at just 225 grams (0.5 pounds), will be available at Backcountry.com and Mammut.com starting on Oct. 4 for $179, followed by a launch at retailers nationwide on Feb. 1.
SportTechie Takeaway
MIPS is making its way through helmets involved in a host of sports and recreational activities (including bicycle helmets and ski helmets) amid the increased attention on traumatic brain injuries caused by inadequate head protection. A number of companies are investing heavily in helmet technology and developing proprietary materials and absorption technologies to try to mitigate the problem. Beyond MIPS, the National Football League has been leading the charge among the professional sports leagues by conducting studies on football-related head trauma and hosting startup challenges to crowdsource solutions. The MIPS tech addresses a specific kind of rotational impact that caters to falls off walls, bikes, or snow equipment.


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