As I mentioned in our initial blog, Dexalytics was initially developed with a focus on football. However, Dexalytics is much more than just a software solution for football. Other sports, like football, that have specific positions (i.e., hockey, basketball, volleyball, etc.) also have specific positional body composition requirements that Dexalytics can determine and track. Additionally, individual sports, like track and field, have events that have specific body composition requirements. Coaches and support staff may be aware of some of these requirements, but Dexalytics can scientifically track them.
By analyzing data from the DXA scan, there are two specific areas of body composition that we are able to analyze, which are important to player performance and safety. Regardless of sport, the ability to understand asymmetries in muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD)/bone mineral content (BMC) is critically important for every athlete.
ASYMMETRY OF MUSCLE MASS
DXA is the only body composition methodology that actually segments the player’s body across three components – bone mass, lean mass, and fat mass. This allows us to analyze and track asymmetries in muscle (lean) mass (i.e., right side vs left side, upper body vs. lower body). Asymmetry in muscle mass often develops in athletes who train one portion of their body more than another. For instance, the high jumper may overdevelop the muscle mass on their take-off leg, or the thrower or pitcher may overdevelop the muscle mass in their throwing arm. Tracking these differences can help the coaching and conditioning staff monitor mass development and make changes in the conditioning program to address unwanted changes as they arise and, ideally, before they impact health or performance.
Dexalytics can also be used to track player BMD and BMC. In a future blog we will talk about the differences between BMD and BMC. Bone composition is an important component of an athlete’s overall health. In sports such as cross-country running, wrestling and gymnastics where athletes are concerned about low body weight, athletes are often prone to low BMD and BMC. Dexalytics has been designed to provide alerts when these values are low and can be used to track BMD and BMC throughout an athlete’s career. Again, this information can currently be attained only by utilizing the DXA device, and no other body composition solution can provide it.
Dexalytics only utilizes DXA scans for a variety of reasons, chief among these is that this is the only methodology able to generate segmental data on fat, muscle and bone. All of this information is vital to monitoring and improving an athlete’s health and performance.
Upcoming blogs will focus more deeply on asymmetry and BMD and BMC, what variables to look for, and how DXA and Dexalytics can help you monitor these critical compositional areas.
About the Author: Donald Dengel, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and is a co-founder of Dexalytics. He serves as the Director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, which provides clinical vascular, metabolic, exercise and body composition testing for researchers across the University of Minnesota.