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Force Plates in Physiotherapy Rehabilitation: Jumping into a New Form of Testing

Phystiotherapy force plates

By Georgia Zuill, Adelaide Physiotherapist at Saunders Physiotherapy

In the realm of modern physiotherapy, technological innovations continue to redefine the landscape of rehabilitation practices. Among these advancements, force plates emerge as pivotal tools offering valuable insights into the biomechanics of movement. They allow us to analyse ground reaction forces and patterns of movement, providing essential data for assessing and treating any deficits or asymmetries that could be contributing to your injury pattern and long-standing pain. At Saunders Physiotherapy, our extensive training with high-end Hawkins force plates ensures precision and effectiveness in rehabilitation.

What are Force Plates?

Force plates are advanced tools used in physiotherapy to measure ground reaction forces generated by the body during movement. These plates are equipped with sensors that accurately capture data such as weight distribution, timing, symmetry, and other key metrics. This information is crucial for understanding how the body moves and identifying areas that may need improvement to prevent injuries and enhance performance.

The Role of Force Plates in Rehabilitation

Force plates are invaluable in the rehabilitation process, ensuring that you return to 100% performance and ability. They help in:

  • Assessing Injuries: By analysing movement patterns, force plates can pinpoint specific issues contributing to pain or dysfunction.
  • Tailoring Rehabilitation Programs: The data collected allows for the creation of personalised rehabilitation plans targeting specific deficits.
  • Preventing Future Injuries: Identifying asymmetries and improper movement patterns helps in correcting them before they lead to further injury.

Are you favouring that knee or ankle when squatting, walking, landing, or running? Are the muscles strong enough but your movement pattern still needs to be retrained to reduce injury risk? Can you generate the forces required to perform jumping and running tasks essential to your sport? With this knowledge, we can guide your rehabilitation appropriately and ensure the best outcomes.

Types of Assessments Using Force Plates

Drop Jump Test

  • Purpose: Evaluates lower limb function, jump height, and landing efficiency.
  • Procedure: The individual steps off a 30cm height, lands on the force plates, and then immediately jumps vertically. The plates record reactive strength, jump height, and contact time.
  • Benefits: Helps identify deficits between the left and right or injured and uninjured sides, guiding effective rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy Drop Jump Test

Phases of the Drop Jump

  • Braking Phase: The athlete decelerates as they land on the force plates and absorb the shock of the landing from a height.
  • Propulsive Phase: The athlete begins to drive and extend upwards to propel themselves vertically for a rebound jump.
  • Flight Phase: The portion of the graph where the athlete is in the air.
  • Landing: The landing from the vertical jump back on the force plates.

Drop Jump Test

Countermovement Push-Up

  • Purpose: Assesses upper body strength and force production.
  • Procedure: The athlete starts in a tall plank position, performs a quick countermovement push-up, and then pushes through the arms to launch into the air, landing softly back on the force plates.
  • Benefits: Analyses how effectively an athlete can produce and absorb force through their upper body, critical for dynamic tasks in sports.

Physiotherapy countermovementn push-up

Phases of the Countermovement Push-Up:

  • Unweighting Phase: The athlete begins movement by relaxing the muscles to initiate elbow and shoulder movement.
  • Braking Phase: The athlete decelerates as they lower into the bottom of their push-up.
  • Propulsive Phase: The athlete extends shoulders, elbows, and wrists to propel vertically.
  • Flight Phase: The portion of the graph where force equals zero and the athlete is in the air.
  • Landing: The landing onto the force plates back into a push-up position.

Comprehensive Rehabilitation at Saunders Physiotherapy

At Saunders Physiotherapy, we use Hawkins force plates alongside other clinical assessment tools such as real-time ultrasound and Kangatech. This approach provides a complete profile of your dynamic strength and stability. Our qualified physiotherapists use this data to develop individualised rehab programs that significantly improve performance and decrease the risk of future injuries.

How to Book an Appointment

Booking an appointment at Saunders Physiotherapy is simple and convenient. Booking online ensures you get timely appointments and personalised care tailored to your needs.


Force plates are revolutionising physiotherapy rehabilitation by providing detailed insights into movement biomechanics. At Saunders Physiotherapy, we leverage this advanced technology to offer comprehensive assessments and tailored rehabilitation programs. Don’t wait to enhance your recovery and performance—book your appointment online today with Georgia for a thorough evaluation and personalised care.

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