Army using running tracker to take steps toward injury prevention
The U.S. Army is using 2,300 MilestonePods to track how West Point cadets and Fort Bragg soldiers run in an effort to curb running injuries. (Photo courtery Milestone Sports)
By Rindi White
Running injuries are almost inevitable; run long enough or hard enough, and you’re sure to get one at some point. But the U.S. Army is hoping to learn how to better prevent running injuries in the military.
To that end, it’s conducting a large-scale running study at West Point and Fort Bragg, in which cadets and soldiers will wear a MilestonePod, a small, waterproof device (smaller than 1.5 inches square) that clips to shoelaces and tracks running cadence, the time the wearer’s foot is in contact with the ground, stride length, distance, pace and time. It’s made by Milestone Sports, a sports technology company focused on connecting retailers and brands to consumers through wearable devices. According to Milestone Sports, the study will observe what potential running characteristics are predictive of injury.
“After detailed internal testing, we chose the MilestonePod primarily because it accurately tracks the core running metrics that are correlated with increased injury risk,” said Lt. Col. Don Goss, a principal investigator of the study. “The scale of the study can be contributed to the Pod’s ease of use and low cost. At the end of the study, we hope to employ strategies to help reduce the number of lower extremity injuries in the military.”
(Photo courtery Milestone Sports)
Users of the Pod do not need to carry a phone or remember to recharge it; it syncs with a smart device and relays the data on its own.
For the study, investigators will be looking at the rate of foot impact, foot strike, stride length, cadence and shoe life. The Pod also tracks leg swing, ground contact time, distance, pace, duration and a user’s “Runficiency Score.”
“Everything we do is based on the belief that how you run matters. Every day we provide thousands of runners and walkers around the world the data they need to improve performance, stay healthy and find the right shoe,” said Stephen Suydam, director of research at Milestone Sports. “We are very honored to be chosen by Dr. Goss and his team to help bring this knowledge to the Army.”
The cadets and soldiers participating in the study will wear the Pods in an eight or 12-week training cycle.