Use of Infrared as a Training Tool

Use of Infrared as a Training Tool

Nov 2, 2014

2014-10-29 10.17.09

^^Gotta Love New Toys!

During an industry conference a new toy came to my attention – the FLIR One infrared camera which attaches to the iPhone 5/5S.  Mind you, I am no stranger to the use of infrared analysis as it is one of a number of technologies that I use in business.  However, in this case, I though that I would put a few ideas to the test.



We have an infrared camera (Fluke 31 Infrared Gun) used for taking still images and observing infrared at the gym.  It is a tool that I use in industry to look for specific problems having to do with industrial and commercial electrical and energy systems in order to perform something called ‘predictive maintenance.’  The concept is simple – heat is given off as a wavelength of light called infrared, which we cannot see with the naked eye, but we can observe using instrumentation.  There are some limitations, in particular that infrared will only see the surface temperature of an object (sorry, guys, it does NOT see through clothing) and different shades will show differently (black is more accurate in temperature than white).  How-ever… Blood flow in the body and surface temperature will tell you a lot when you are observing conditions.

Now, lets back up a little to previous postings – injury and post injury conditions.  In this case, it is well over a year later and one of the issues that I have had during lifts is cramping in my left foot (the injured leg), calf, hamstring and quads.  My theory was that the swelling associated with pressure on the affected knee would restrict blood flow.  My doctor disagreed.  So who wins?  Globally renown, modest engineering PhD (and infrared analyst)?  Or medical doctor (who is awesome by the way… if you are reading this)?

So, after playing with the new toy… yeah!  (Typical nerd cheering, but no jumping – no plans on re-injuring myself, especially seeing as I am in Chicago)  Basically, it was time to put it to the test.

^^Video from 135lb to 365lb deadlift warm-ups.  On YOUR right is the injured knee.


^^ Still of just before the first 135lb warm-up attempt


^^Still of just after the 365lb warm-up attempt

Just so you understand what you are looking at – bluer is cooler and darker through red then white is hotter with white being the hottest.  The instrument corrects the temperature making white points related to the warmest and blue in relationship to the warmer temperatures.

In the 135lb attempt above, the leg on YOUR right (viewing the picture) shows white just like the other leg in the first picture.  Notice less white and even a dimming towards yellow right at the knee in the second picture on the leg to your right.  This is an indicator of a slightly lower temperature.  As the weights became heavier, this became more pronounced until the foot first and then the calf cramped.

From a therapy and training standpoint, I now have information which I can deal with and begin to correct the problem.

So, we started reviewing the use of the technology during our November 2 squat day at 2XL Powerlifting with Team Stone.

^^Team Stone members in training on November 2, 2014

^^Team Stone Squat Training on November 2, 2014

There are a few things to consider with this new training tool:

  • There is about a 15 ft (5 meter) best range on the instrument.  This will mean focusing on key points for study.
  • Reflected light will alter temperatures.
  • It is REALLY COOL!
  • Oh, and the instrument has accuracy limitations on the actual surface temperature, but is very accurate on ambient versus point temperatures.

I haven’t played with some of the settings, such as emissivity, yet, but I will.  In the meantime, we will continue to use it as a training tool in order to gain experience.

And, of course, it was interesting to watch the changes to temperature at the lifters’ heads and feet during the lift.

Oh, yeah… and I won!



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