To better understand and evaluate an individual’s specific muscle volume, symmetry, and fat infiltration, Springbok’s AI technology produces a 3D digital twin of a person’s musculoskeletal (MSK) system. We are unlocking a new way to view and understand muscle, providing muscle volume metrics through a personalized Springbok Score, which compares an individual’s muscle volume against a normative database, providing an objective evaluation of individual muscle size, informing training and precision health interventions.

A Springbok scan makes it possible for clinicians, researchers, performance coaches and the general population to understand complex MSK data and inform better preventive care measures, athlete development and rehabilitation protocols, and research and clinical decisions.

Why Muscle Volume Matters

Building muscle mass and sustaining muscle volume across one’s lifespan is critical for long-term health, the prevention of chronic disease, and quality of life. 

As an independent and strong predictor of all-cause mortality, building and maintaining muscle mass and strength may help people to live longer, free of disease. Muscle mass can have a protective effect on health by building resilience to stress, namely by reducing chronic inflammation - when a person’s body is in a low-level fight or flight mode. Chronic inflammation is linked to several chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

There are also unique links between muscle mass and immunity with recent studies showing how muscle mass and strength correlated to lower severity of Covid-19 and shorter hospital stays. Muscle is made up of stored amino acids which the body can lend in the healing of other tissues when fighting infection, and the more muscle one has, the more prepared the body is to fight off illness. Similar findings in patients with cancer show that having more muscle mass may help to build resilience against cachexia (muscle atrophy) and the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, even improving survival rates in some cancers.

When it comes to health, performance and even longevity, muscle volume is important. But don’t just take our word for it. Here is what the research on muscle volume has to say:

Muscle volume is one of the best ways to characterize muscle strength. 

Research investigating quadriceps femoris strength supports the use of muscle volume as a strength determinant due to its high correlation. Physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) did not enhance the muscle strength association. As stated in “The Human Muscle Size and Strength Relationship”, they suggest using muscle volume for measurements. Hamstring muscle volume and size explained a large portion of knee flexor maximal strength compared to muscle composition (myosine composition) seen in “The functional significance of hamstrings composition: is it really a ‘fast muscle group?”.

The takeaway: Muscle volume is an accurate, objective way to qualify strength without depending on patient compliance or instrument bias.

Personalization matters: the same injury impacts people and their muscles differently.

Patients with a history of meniscal pathology demonstrate inconsistent patterns of lower extremity muscle volumes about the hip, knee, and ankle between limbs and in comparison to uninjured individuals. These data support the need for individualized assessment and intervention in this population.

The takeaway:  Two people can have the same injury but the impact to their muscles and how it affects their body is different. Springbok analysis can be used to baseline at injury and then measure progress in recovery to better tailor interventions to the individual.

Muscle volume can be used to assess and aid in recovery. 

Quadriceps strength deficits identified in patients of the study, “Muscle hypotrophy, not inhibition, is responsible for quadriceps weakness during rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction”, show that during rehabilitation following ACL reconstruction suggests it is largely due to muscle atrophy rather than neuromuscular inhibition. Following ACL reconstruction, between-limb differences in volume, peak cross-sectional area, and length of the semitendinosus and gracilis was significantly correlated with the deficit in knee flexion strength. Potential compensation with hypertrophy of the lateral hamstring may lead to abnormal loading of the medial and lateral compartments of the knee joint which was identified in the “Morphologic Characteristics and Strength of the Hamstring Muscles Remain Altered at 2 Years after Use of a Hamstring Tendon Graft in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction”, study. 

The takeaway: Muscle volume measurement is less prone to error since it is an objective approach, as compared to subjective diagnosis or patient-dependent task measures. Because of this, small muscle changes at an individual level can be discerned and quickly used to facilitate patient specific/individualized care.

Muscle volume is an objective measure of the impacts of training

Considerable inter-individual heterogeneity exists in the muscular adaptations to resistance training. It has been proposed that fast-twitch fibres are more sensitive to hypertrophic stimuli and thus that variation in muscle fibre type composition is a contributing factor to the magnitude of training response. This study investigated if the inter-individual variability in resistance training adaptations is determined by muscle typology and if the most appropriate weekly training frequency depends on muscle typology.

The takeaway: This study used Springbok technology to measure muscle volumes across all lower limb muscles instead of focusing on one or a few. This enables more objective assessment to ensure that a training regimen:  1) results in meaningful change in some/all/no muscles, and 2) if that change is different between people with different muscle composition. This could allow for better tracking of training and performance interventions and connecting those with biological factors.

Enter personalized muscle analysis technology

Springbok’s advanced interactive muscle visualization makes it possible to see any tradeoff of muscle hypertrophy and atrophy following an injury. Following an ACL repair, one study shows hypertrophy and strength in the hamstrings differed from muscle to muscle due to compensatory muscles taking over for the injured tendon, while still seeing the total muscle volume in the injured leg drop. This depth of analysis is changing the game for sports scientists, performance coaches, as well as clinicians and researchers.

Springbok's technology leverages AI and the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to transform static 2D imagery into precise 3D muscle assessments. A Springbok scan takes less than 15 minutes and unlocks a new way to view and quantify muscle volume, asymmetries, and atrophy, as well as soft tissue injuries and scar tissue. To learn more or request a demo, please visit here.

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