Frequently Asked Questions

What are non-contact injuries?

Any situation resulting in injury that is not the result of direct contact with another player or object is considered a non-contact injury. Such mechanisms are typically associated with evasive maneuvers that involve some form of deceleration, change of direction, or landing (Boden et al. 2000; Olsen et al. 2004; Cochrane et al. 2007). These injuries often manifest as a torn or sprained ligament such as an ACL tear, MCL tear or ankle sprain or debilitating pain such as PFPS (shin splints) or hip impingement.

What is postural sway?

The processes the body uses to maintain balance is called postural control. While the goal of postural control is usually to keep the body in a stable, upright position, this does not mean the body is motionless. It is normal for the body to move back and forth and side to side about different joints of the body, for example about the ankles and hips. This movement is termed postural sway.

While a little bit of postural sway is normal, sometimes a person can show too little or too much movement or the pattern of postural sway can be atypical. This is common in individuals suffering from mild traumatic brain injury, intoxication, weak ankle or knee musculature, or severe back pain. For this reason, postural sway is a good measurement to use when evaluating an athlete’s recovery after suffering a concussion.

Concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury caused by damage to the head directly, or a blow to the body that causes the brain inside the head to move back and forth. This type of trauma causes the brain to bounce around inside the skull which may mechanically damage brain cells or cause chemical changes in brain tissue. Though concussion is often characterized as a mild traumatic brain injury, the effects of a concussion can be quite serious. (Adapted from the CDC.)

How is postural sway measured?

An athlete stands on a platform with embedded sensors that measure forces acting on the surface from the feet. From those force measurements an overall measurement of body movement is calculated. When these measurements are taken from a healthy athlete they are recorded as baseline values. If an athlete becomes injured those values change. A post-injury measurement can be used to compare the athlete’s current level of sway to their baseline values in order to see whether the injury is affecting their sense of postural control. Depending on how far from their baseline the athlete is, a decision can be made about whether to return them to play or practice.

What is a biomechanical imbalance?

Opposing muscle groups allow humans to move around. In walking, as the leg lifts to take a step, the muscles on the front of the leg tighten while the muscles on the back of the leg stretch. As the weight shifts through the step, these forces reverse, the muscles on the back tighten to lift the leg behind us while the muscles on the front stretch. When each muscle group provides the same amount of force the forces are balanced. However, when these opposing muscles provide varying tension due to tightness and/or weakness it is considered a muscle imbalance.

A muscle imbalance caused by repeated movements in one direction or sustained postures is a biomechanical imbalance. Biomechanical imbalance is one of two recognized causes of muscle imbalance, the other being from a predisposition of certain muscle groups to be tight or weak.

How are biomechanical imbalances assessed?

Athletes complete a series of common athletic movements typically studied in kinesiology research while being recorded simultaneously from a multitude of angles. A certified fitness specialist cues each athlete through the movement testing. The recordings are compiled into a single 3-dimensional model of the athlete from which specific measurements of joint angles are taken. These measurements are then compared to ranges of motion indicative of a specific biomechanical imbalance or predictive of specific non-contact injury.

Additionally, we collect athlete epidemiological data which, when compiled with the measured data, forms a comprehensive assessment of risk for specific non-contact injuries. Once established, this risk can be mitigated by training an athlete’s movement patterns through corrective exercise. For individual athletes, 4c Sports provides sport-specific workouts which can be performed at home or in a gym. In a team environment, coaching staff can create their own workouts using appropriate exercises to correct the identified biomechanical imbalances.

Who can get assessed?

Athletes as young as 12 years old can get assessed by, and benefit from, 4c Sports analysis and injury intervention programs. We provide individual and team assessments.

Where does an individual athlete get assessed?

Our test facility in Bozeman, Montana is open to the public and individuals can schedule an appointment. Submit an inquiry to request more information.

Where can my team get assessed?

4c Sports brings a mobile laboratory on-site to our client’s facility or training camp. We have regional centers around the United States from which we mobilize our mobiles labs and distributed staff. Submit an inquiry to request more information.

What does an athlete wear for the assessment?

Athletes can wear any close-fitting athletic apparel.

How long will it take?

It takes about 15 minutes to complete our biomechanical and postural sway assessment suite. Typical output is 70-100 athletes per testing day.

Will insurance pay for my assessment?

4c Sports assessments are covered by some insurance providers. We accept HSA cards and can provide itemized receipts to submit to your insurance company.

What happens after the assessment? How do I find out which injuries I’m at risk for and what I can do to reduce my injury risk?

Postural sway data is available immediately following the assessment. For individual biomechanical assessments, we strive to make data available online by the next business day.

4c Sports provides Web access to view individual injury risk potential, contributing biomechanical factors, measured ranges of motion and corrective exercise programming.

Do you provide follow-up assessments to assess progress or re-evaluate after injury?

4c Sports encourages a follow-up assessment approximately 12 weeks following the initial baseline assessment for healthy athletes who have been training to correct their biomechanical imbalances and within 24 hours following a head injury. Re-assessing is an essential step to evaluate an athlete’s adherence to the program, biomechanical progression and improved movement patterns. In the case of head injury its prudent to get a measurement as soon as possible to assess the immediate level of deviation from baseline to provide the best information to the health care team. If the athlete has deviated from their baseline, continual re-assessment every 24 hours can be used to help track the recovery process.