A Glendale athletic tech business has hired a new CEO to lead the company as its muscle-monitoring systems gets adopted to an expanding roster of professional sports teams seeking to optimize their players’ performance.
MuscleSound brought on Andy Jackson, a veteran fitness tech executive, to lead the company. Stephen Kurtz, a co-founder and the previous CEO, has been named chairman of the business and will begin working researching health care applications of the company’s product.
The business makes a mobile, high-frequency ultrasound system and accompanying software that measures muscle glycogen levels, muscle mass composition and muscle changes — whether it’s injured or fatigued — to help trainers determine how to keep an athlete healthy and performing at their best.
Having mobile, real-time monitoring tied to analytics software is meant to show trainers the condition of an athlete’s muscles at that moment, or before and after exercise to understand how well muscle are performing, which can reveal subtle injuries or causes of fatigue.
“We’re looking into the muscle and can say where you are,” Jackson said. “Teams are using it to answer how hard an athlete should train.”
The five-year-old company employs 10 people.
It built its MuscleHealth system based on research pioneered by Iñigo San Millán, a University of Colorado exercise physiologist, and John Hill, a CU family sports medicine doctor, that showed ultrasound can be used to examine a muscle group’s real-time use of a key energy source, glycogen.
Previously, physical biopsies or lengthy MRIs could only be used to measure glycogen in a muscle, and then results would come days or weeks later.
The value of MuscleSound’s system is providing muscle condition information in the training center or locker room, which helps that helps trainers and athletes use current data, not just intuition, to make training decisions that prevent injury or speed recovery, Kurtz said.
When done in the context of the careful training, diet and sleep regimes professional athletes usually have, it can lead to new insights into what it takes for an athlete to have optimal performance, Jackson said.
Jackson most recently has been CEO of CloudTag, a British wearable device that monitors a users heart rate helped in weight loss.
Teams from major professional sports leagues use MuscleSound include the Colorado Rockies, the Los Angeles Rams football team (formerly St. Louis Rams), and basketball’s Dallas Mavericks.
The system has been used by European soccer teams and the U.S. women’s track cycling team in preparation for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals just joined the company’s client list.
“The technology allows us to measure glycogen levels in seconds and assess injury risk by finding indications of overtraining and possible muscle damage,” said Nick Kenney, the Royals’ head athletic trainer. “With that data, we then develop a customized nutritional and training plan for every player to ensure positive change in performance and injury reduction, and minimize recovery or time not playing due to injuries.”
MuscleSound also works with personal trainers for serious athletes and fitness centers to provide their clients glycogen monitoring.
The company offers the technology through services ranging from having clients, once trained, do the ultrasounds scanning themselves all the way to working with a sports team head trainers or doctors as consultants helping monitor, analyze readings and recommend training adjustments.
Kurtz, an avid runner who led MuscleSound after a career in mergers and acquisitions finance, sees a lot of potential uses for MuscleSound technology.
“Our advisors believe our technology can follow energy use throughout the body, which has a lot of potential implications,” he said.
As chairman, he’ll work on partnerships to study MuscleSound’s potential uses in health care, primarily for patient recovery physical therapy, he said.
The day-to-day business of MuscleSound will be in professional athletics, and with athletic trainers serving athletes serious about their performance, not trying to adapt the technology for recreational consumer use.
“We’re going to stay focused on professional use of it, and there’s a lot of potential growth there,” Jackson said.