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Looking to Improve Your Running Technique? Electric Shocks Will Do the Trick, Says Research

Apr 29, 2017 09:43 AM EDT
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FootStriker addresses a new runners' tendency to land incorrectly by placing a pressure sensor inside a shoe's insole. When an incorrect step is detected, a pad on the back of the calf releases a little burst of electricity that stimulates the muscles to correct the landing of the foot the next time it hits the ground.
(Photo : Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

There's nothing like an electric shock to jolt your running form back up to speed.

According to a report from New Scientistthere's a new device called FootStriker that sends an electrical shock through the foot to improve an athlete's running style. Beginners or recreational runners often find their feet landing heel-first while running, which can make them prone to injury.

FootStriker addresses a new runners' tendency to land incorrectly by placing a pressure sensor inside a shoe's insole. When an incorrect step is detected, a pad on the back of the calf releases a little burst of electricity that stimulates the muscles to correct the landing of the foot the next time it hits the ground.

A test conducted by researchers on six runners tracked the frequency of heel landings and proved the effectivity of FootStriker in actual runs. In a one-kilometer run without the application, the average percentage of heel landings was 95 percent, but when the technology was turned on for the next three kilometers, the average percentage dramatically decreased to just 16 percent. The device was turned off for the last kilometer, but the percentage of heel landings continued to decrease, suggesting that the body may have adjusted to the "correct" way of running.

Instead of getting assistance from FootStriker, a control group was coached on the proper technique. However, their results weren't nearly as dramatic as the other, only reducing their heel landings from 97 percent to 80 percent.

There is still some debate on the best running style, according to Mads Møller Jensen at Aarhus University in Denmark.

"But for people that wish to change their running style or who are prone to injury, FootStriker looks really effective," he added.

The findings of the research are published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

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