Smart shoe insoles and phone app provide gait info on every step

A proper running technique focusing on every step can help an athlete increase efficiency while preventing injury. Specifically, how the foot strikes the ground can affect performance, comfort, and even pain following an exercise routine.

MedGadget, June 2, 2017

Engineers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed an electronic insole that is able to sense the pressure on the feet on every step, displaying and recording the data continuously to help improve a runner’s gait and to help prevent injury.

The new insole can be used in pairs to provide info on both feet at the same time. Each insole has a set of sensors that recognize which part of the foot each step lands on and whether the forefoot strikes the ground too excessively. A paired app displays the information, updating with every step, allowing the user to quickly modify one’s running style.

While this may be of particular interest to professional runners, its true benefit may be realized on those recovering from injury or surgery, such as those with a repaired Achilles tendons who should avoid excessive forefoot strikes.

Source MedGadget

Sensing Insole for Footstrike Pattern Detection in Runners HKRITA. YouTube April 18, 2017
Mobile biofeedback device for footstrike pattern modification for injury prevention and rehabilitation in runners

The annual injury risk for regular runners is up to 80%. It is largely related to how runner’s foot hits the ground. Emerging evidence suggests that heel or forefoot strike may result in injuries such as stress fractures or Achilles tendinitis.

According to biomechanical analysis, midfoot strike is an optimal pattern, but it is difficult for runners to attain on their own. This invention provides real-time information about footstrike patterns over the whole running bout and real-time feedback through a specially designed smartphone app. Runners may make use of the information to modify their gait mechanics for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Special Features and Advantages
  • High accuracy – cross-validated with laboratory-based equipment
  • Low cost when compared to motion capturing device (< 1/10000) or pressure sensors (< less than 1/1000)
  • Continuous outdoor monitoring
  • Real-time information and feedback for users to adjust their footstrike pattern accordingly
  • Injury prevention – Runners can use the device to have biofeedback training which modifies gait mechanics by adjusting footstrike pattern.
  • Rehabilitation – Recovering runners are able to realize their footstrike pattern and avoid overloading of particular body structures e.g. runners with repaired Achilles tendon should avoid forefoot strike.

Source The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  Further reading

Wearable Technology May Assist in Retraining Foot Strike Patterns in Previously Injured Military Service Members: A Prospective Case Series, Goss DL, Watson DJ, Miller EM, Weart AN, Szymanek EB, Freisinger GM. Front Sports Act Living. 2021 Feb 26;3:630937. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.630937. Full text

Effects of Wearable Devices with Biofeedback on Biomechanical Performance of Running-A Systematic Review, Giraldo-Pedroza A, Lee WC, Lam WK, Coman R, Alici G. Sensors (Basel). 2020 Nov 19;20(22):6637. doi: 10.3390/s20226637. Full text

A general relationship links gait mechanics and running ground reaction forces, Kenneth P. Clark, Laurence J. Ryan, Peter G. Weyand. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2017; 220 (2): 247 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.138057

Also see
New study connects running motion to ground force, provides patterns for any runner Science Daily

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