Central Metric for evidence based training: the Movement Signature™

By Sparta Science

January 15, 2019

Movement analysis is centuries old. The earliest attempt to create a classification system was started in the 18th century by King Louis XIV with the idea of preserving dances. Another lurch forward occurred during World War II, as engineers sought to improve worker’s contributions to the rapidly growing industrial economy. This evolution of movement analysis is like any great coach or general; their approaches improved efficiency, reduced fatigue, and increased quality of life.

Improving this efficiency is at the core of our existence and happiness. In human movement, the path begins with the analysis of your Movement Signature™.

Ground Reaction Forces

A Movement Signature™ is the ground reaction force (GRF) profile used by any individual as their neuromuscular solution to movement.


GRFs are the forces exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. For example, a person standing motionless on the ground exerts a contact force on it (equal to the person’s weight) and at the same time, an equal and opposite ground reaction force is exerted by the ground on the person.

Because we all live on the Earth, we are all bound by the forces of gravity. Our ability to move is best described using physics and the fundamental laws derived by Sir Isaac Newton.

The brain controls the movements of skeletal (voluntary) muscles via specialized nerves. The combination of the nervous system and muscles, working together to permit movement, is known as the neuromuscular system.

Dynamic movements are best to assess the efficiency of the neuromuscular system because they can assess both of these systems together. The brain dictates an individuals ability to actually express things such as muscle size, strength, or flexibility in efficiently in movement. Moving efficiently is the ultimate goal of any human being.

Efficient movers are:


  1. Less susceptible to fatigue because each movement costs less energy.
  2. At lower injury risk because joint and muscle stress is dispersed appropriately.
  3. Higher performers, because the body can produce and express more force.


Greater force expression results from less interference from opposing muscle groups, called antagonists. This interference can be thought of as “driving with the brakes on.”


In contrast, inefficient movers are:


  1. More susceptible to fatigue because of a higher energy cost for each movement.
  2. At higher risk of injury because of the inability to absorb, withstand, or disperse stress appropriately.
  3. Lower performers because the body can express less force because of interference.


What plays a role in your Movement Signature?

Your Movement Signature is dictated by your history, genetics, and regeneration strategies.

Training, sport, and physical history all affect your Movement Signature. For example, quick, short movements like in soccer or basketball and long distance endurance running will create distinctly different types of signatures. Injury and medical history will also affect your GRF profile based on limitations or compensations due to previous injuries or surgeries.

Genetics also play a role, best classified by ethnic findings such as African-American athletes producing higher rates of force, and Asian athletes possessing longer durations of force application and higher flexibility.

Regeneration and recovery strategies also have a host of effects on the Movement Signature, often due to acute and chronic fatigue, or more simply due to the resulting body mass which obviously influences GRFs and your Movement Signature.

The Database

With our database, hosting over 800,000 GRF profiles alongside injury, performance, and availability data from our 80+ partners over the last ten years (as of 2019), we have specific insight into injury risk and the preferential success in certain skills as relates to movement efficiency. This database now includes over 28,000 different individuals and 7,000 injuries allowing us to utilize machine learning to identify specific insights and thresholds of the Movement Signature for diagnostics.


Just as important we have also collected millions of events from workouts, rehab plans, wellness, and regeneration habits to identify truly validated and individualized programs to improve movement efficiency.

As a doctor, physical therapist, coach, or fitness trainer, you aim to provide the most efficient plan to optimize performance and decrease the risk of injury for the individuals you work with. As an individual, you seek to get the most out of your body. The Movement Signature provides a road map to getting there.

We at Sparta Science are committed to helping people to move better, at work, at play, and on duty.

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