Accelerometer-Based Identification of Fatigue in the Lower Limbs during Cyclical Physical Exercise: A Systematic Review

Luca Marotta*, Bouke L. Scheltinga, Robbert van Middelaar, Wichor M. Bramer, Bert Jan F. van Beijnum, Jasper Reenalda, Jaap H. Buurke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


Physical exercise (PE) is beneficial for both physical and psychological health aspects. However, excessive training can lead to physical fatigue and an increased risk of lower limb injuries. In order to tailor training loads and durations to the needs and capacities of an individual, physical fatigue must be estimated. Different measurement devices and techniques (i.e., ergospirometers, electromyography, and motion capture systems) can be used to identify physical fatigue. The field of biomechanics has succeeded in capturing changes in human movement with optical systems, as well as with accelerometers or inertial measurement units (IMUs), the latter being more user-friendly and adaptable to real-world scenarios due to its wearable nature. There is, however, still a lack of consensus regarding the possibility of using biomechanical parameters measured with accelerometers to identify physical fatigue states in PE. Nowadays, the field of biomechanics is beginning to open towards the possibility of identifying fatigue state using machine learning algorithms. Here, we selected and summarized accelerometer-based articles that either (a) performed analyses of biomechanical parameters that change due to fatigue in the lower limbs or (b) performed fatigue identification based on features including biomechanical parameters. We performed a systematic literature search and analysed 39 articles on running, jumping, walking, stair climbing, and other gym exercises. Peak tibial and sacral acceleration were the most common measured variables and were found to significantly increase with fatigue (respectively, in 6/13 running articles and 2/4 jumping articles). Fatigue classification was performed with an accuracy between 78% and 96% and Pearson’s correlation with an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) between r = 0.79 and r = 0.95. We recommend future effort toward the standardization of fatigue protocols and methods across articles in order to generalize fatigue identification results and increase the use of accelerometers to quantify physical fatigue in PE.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3008
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


  • artificial intelligence
  • biomechanical phenomena
  • human movement
  • inertial measurement units
  • physical activity
  • running
  • walking


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