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A revolution in running training

Running is becoming more and more popular. Although it is considered to be particularly healthy, the number of running injuries is growing steadily. Cramps, knee pain, or torn tendons plague many jogging enthusiasts. This is where the “RUNSAFER” project comes in: Together with six other partners, Fraunhofer IPMS is working on a running shoe prototype that will guarantee better monitoring of your workout to counter injuries during jogging.


The sun is shining, it‘s 20 °C, and there is a light breeze – perfect weather for jogging a lap or two. But your enjoyment of endurance sport can quickly be ruined. In particular, runners who start off without warming up or expect too much from themselves are very susceptible to injuries. The reasons for this are diverse, and vary from runner to runner. Often these are not serious injuries that paralyze an athlete, but are rather symptoms of overexertion. Injuries can range from sore muscles to torn tendons, over extensions, and – in the worst case – torn ligaments.


The crux – sensors


Alongside the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS, six other partners are working on the EU “RUNSAFER” project to ensure improved monitoring of training to counteract injuries during workouts. The main focus of this work is the development of a special prototype running shoe, in which a micro-electronic system is integrated to measure the athlete´s biomechanical data while he is running and thus analyze  the running technique in real time. “The development of the system per se is based on technical sensors,” explains Dr. Andreas Heinig from the Wireless Microsystems division at Fraunhofer IPMS and continues: “Using built-in sensors for acceleration and rate of rotation, the system integrated in the shoe will be capable of recording comprehensive measurements of the athlete‘s running technique.”


High-tech shoe warns about overexertion


Popular running monitors currently available can only measure vital parameters such as heart rate or pulse. By contrast, the newly developed system is intended to warn the athlete if it detects an incorrect foot position or overexertion. The readings are transmitted wirelessly to the runner‘s mobile phone, where a corresponding app provides feedback on current training performance in real time. “The readings are then translated into parameters by means of a special algorithm, making them available for immediate monitoring and analysis of training,” according to Dr. Heinig. In addition, the app suggests modifications to the runner‘s motion pattern, preventing loading on one side and resulting injuries. The readings are transmitted to a web-based portal for post-processing and further analysis during the actual training session. Improvements to training techniques can be followed up based on this analysis, and personalized training plans can be created. The global networking of athletes on social networks is also possible. Last but not least, the research partners are also working on developing a particularly affordable running shoe that can be successful on the market – the best prerequisite for making running even more popular in the future.


The RUNSAFER project:

The RUNSAFER project (Grant Agreement No. 285800) is financed by the European Commissions‘ special funding tool, the “Research for the Benefit of SMEs”, as part of its 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). In addition to the Fraunhofer IPMS, the EII (Estonian Innovation Institute) and the IBV (Institute of Biomechanics in Valencia), which are involved in the project as further research institutions, the companies Kelme and Bkool (Spain), Dukosi (United Kingdom), and Nuromedia (Germany) are also partners in the project.


Dr. Michael Scholles
Phone +49 351 8823-201
Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS
Maria-Reiche-Strasse 2
01109 Dresden