Mobile Technology in Running Science and Medicine: Are We Ready?


Mobile Technology in Running Science and Medicine: Are We Ready?

Since the running revolution of the 1970s, one of the major challenges has been the burden of running-related injuries (RRIs). Researchers, sports medicine practitioners, and strength and conditioning coaches are striving to develop an understanding of which factors may increase an individuals risk of developing RRIs, which strategies can be used to ensure optimal rehabilitation and recovery from an injury, and how to best optimize athletic performance. A new research Viewpoint explores these factors to demonstrate how recent advances in mobile technology may allow us to uncover novel insights related to the science and medicine of running.

Running related injuries are multifactorial in nature and current methods used to collect, aggregate and extract meaning from these data create silos of often subjective and incomplete information. Many studies rely on self-reporting, which is an issue for a variety of reasons.

The application of digital technology in running science and medicine may allow for the generation of new insights on a larger scale. The image above illustrates how data collected at an individualized level can be aggregated to create population-based insights, which could inform actuation at an individual level.

Current running technology is not perfect, and can be subject to user error, including how it is worn. These devices are also not always perfectly accurate, so they may be unreliable for running studies.

So far, one wearable sensor-based study has investigated the influence of gait characteristics on injury-risk. This study demonstrating that individuals with ≤166 steps per minute, as measured by a Polar RCX5 wristwatch and S3+ Stride were at a 5.85 times greater odds of sustaining a shin injury than those with ≥178 steps per minute. This study is likely just the beginning in terms of running data that will soon be available.

In conclusion, all the new running technology we have at our disposal, including smart phones, smart shoes, and cloud-based data, will soon make it easier for researchers to learn more about the causes of running related injuries.

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Jen DavisRunning