Running helps individuals improve their health and well-being, but runners do sustain injuries from time to time. Researchers say that of the 80 million runners in Europe, more than 37 million suffered a running injury during practice in the last year. A team of scientists in Spain are working on lowering the risk of such injury by designing a new running shoe that integrates a measuring device to provide control and prevent injuries during running. The research is supported by the RUNSAFER ('Development of a running shoe with embedded electronics providing real time biomechanical feedback to reduce injury risk and enhance motivation, and a web portal allowing real training management') project, which is funded under the 'Research for the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)' Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), to the tune of EUR 1.06 million.
The team, led by the Institute of Biomechanics of Valencia (IBV) in Spain, said the device will be equipped with a microelectronic measurement system that can collect and transmit the runner's main biomechanical parameters. The information will be wirelessly transmitted to the runner's mobile phone, where an application will let the runner know, in real time, about the planned activity and the performance achieved until that moment. The mobile phone application has the ability to integrate extra information supplied by other commercial devices currently used by runners, namely smart phone–based heart rate monitors or global positioning systems.
Thanks to this device, the runners can download all running information on a web portal; a management application will also be available, which can create customised training plans based on the previous analysis of the runner's biomechanics. It will also allow users to follow up on training improvements and obtain injury prevention recommendations. The web portal will comprise Web 2.0 functionalities, permitting the runners to stay in contact with one another, and to develop and share running routes, footwear information, etc.
What is unique about this system is that the innovative device will be the first of its kind to characterise the running technique from biomechanical variables, and provide real-time suggestions for injury prevention and better performance.
Researchers from Germany, Estonia, Spain, and the United Kingdom are contributing to this project.