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EU-funded researchers to develop 'smarter' running shoe

04 December 2012

Of 80 million European runners, more than 37 million suffered a running injury in the last year. Now, scientists in Spain are working to limit the risk of such injuries.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

They are 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 project, which is funded by the EU to the tune of Euro 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, 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, and so on. 

What is unique about this system is that the 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. 

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