Running Sensors

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There are a growing number of wearable devices that will analyze your biomechanics, mostly from small startup companies, though the bigger players are also contributing to the space. Many of these devices a making use of the cheap and accurate accelerometers that are now readily available, though there are some other approaches being used.

Device Cost Sensor Realtime Watch Symmetry Cadence GCT VO Impact Braking Pronation Foot Strike SmO2
Running Dynamics v1 $100 Chest Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
Running Dynamics v2 $100 Chest Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
RunScribe $200 Footpod No No Yes Yes Yes No Foot Foot Yes Yes No
MilestonePod $25 Footpod No No No Yes Yes No Foot No No Yes No
Sensoria $200 Sock Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Foot No No Yes No
TgForce $145 Ankle Yes No No Yes No No Tibia No No No No
Lumo $80 Waist Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No Body No No No
Stryd $200 Chest Yes Yes No? Yes Yes Yes No Body No No No
Moov Now $60 Ankle Yes No No Yes No No Ankle No No No No
RUNTEQ Zoi 150 EUR Foot & Chest Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Foot Body Yes Yes No
RPM2 $500 Insole Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No  ? No Yes Yes No
Moxy $770 Calf Yes Yes No No No No No No No No Yes
BSX $300 Calf Yes Yes No No No No No No No No Yes

1 Garmin's Running Dynamics

Many newer Garmin watches ( 620, 920XT, Epix, Fenix 3, etc.) combined with a special chest strap will provide extra metrics that can give insight into your Running Form. The Garmin watches will provide these metrics in real time, allowing you to see the effect of changes in your form. These metrics include:

  • Vertical Oscillation. This is how much the torso moves up and down with each stride. It is generally believed that less Vertical Oscillation is a better, but I suspect that this is an oversimplification. It's sometimes a thought that a greater vertical oscillation will result in greater impact, but this is not the case. Impact is how quickly you decelerate, so landing hard can result in less vertical movement but a shorter, more intense deceleration. It's even suggested that greater vertical oscillation will result in more braking force, but that does not seem reasonable. I believe that some are part of a runners vertical movement is likely to be elastic in nature (consider a bouncing rubber ball), some of the vertical motion will be while the runner is airborne (ballistic), and some of the vertical motion is the vertical deceleration as the runner lands. So it seems likely to me that excessive vertical oscillation is bad, but it's a tricky to know what excessive is likely to be, or how to correct it.
  • Ground Contact Time (GCT). The Science of Running Economy generally shows that longer Ground Contact Time is correlated with poorer Running Economy.
  • Ground Contact Time Balance. This is the relative Ground Contact Time ratio of the left and right feet, which will reveal potential imbalances in the body.
  • Computed metrics. The Garmin watches will use the basic metrics to calculate things like stride length (based on cadence and pace), and Vertical Ratio (vertical oscillation to stride length ratio).
Garmin's Connect web site shows the metrics gathered using the HRM4 and Garmin Fenix 3.

2 RunScribe

RunScribe is a small pair of Footpod's that provide a wide variety of Foot Strike metrics. These include things like Impact G's, GCT, Braking G's, Pronation, and more. I love the detailed metrics that are provided, and the insight into my running form, and possible imbalances. The main disadvantage with the RunScribe approach is that the data is not available during the run, and has to be analyzed afterward. You can read about my testing at RunScribe.

An overview of the data from RunScribe

3 MilestonePod

MilestonePod is a vastly cheaper alternative to RunScribe, and while it doesn't provide the detailed analytics, it's a great value for money. It's also a cheap and effective way of keeping track of the mileage of your shoes, and is worth its price for that feature alone. Like RunScribe the MilestonePod doesn't provide real-time metrics, and you have to analyze the results post run. You can read about my testing at MilestonePod.

Foot Strike, Cadence and Stance Time (Ground Contact Time)
Rate of Impact, and Stride Length
Leg Swing and "Runficiency"
A sample of the graphs in the app.

4 Sensoria

The Sensoria smart socks] are made of materials that can detect pressure changes under your foot and transmit them back to anklet that communicates with a smart phone via Bluetooth. The anklet also includes accelerometers to enhance the data gathered from the pressure sensors. While these socks are interesting, unlike a true pressure plate that has a matrix of pressure sensors, the socks have just three sensors, one in the heel and two in the forefoot.
for a pair of left & right socks, plus one anklet. Note that the socks last for 60 washes and cost $45, which works out to $0.75 per run. That might be cheap to a triathlete, but to most runners that works out pricy. I have a Sensoria anklet on order and I'll report back soon.
(Sensoria also make a tee that shirt includes an embedded Heart Rate monitor strap, you can plug a standard heart rate transmitter module into. They sell a dual Bluetooth/Ant+ transmitter, as well as working with the Polar H7 and some Garmin modules. )

5 TgForce

The TgForce measures just one thing; the peak impact on your lower leg. While this is a far cry from the broad array of data gathered by devices like RunScribe, TgForce may add some particularly valuable insight. Measuring the impact that the foot can be a little misleading as the movement of your ankle can absorb a significant portion of that shock, so knowing how much of the force is transmitted to your lower leg may give a much better insight into injuries. The impact that your lower leg (tibia) receives will be transmitted into your knee, so reducing that stress might be quite helpful. The companion app only runs on iOS devices, not android, which will limit the appeal for some, and unless you buy two devices, it will only measure one leg at a time. Even if you get two devices, it doesn't appear that the app readily supports this approach, unlike RunScribe that does a lot to provide side to side comparisons. That said, I really like to have real-time feedback, something that TgForce provides, either visually for use on a treadmill, or audibly outside. I am planning on testing TgForce in the near future.

6 Lumo Body Tech

Like many other devices, Lumo uses accelerometers to measure body movement, but uniquely (so far) Lumo places the accelerometers at the small of your back. This allows Lumo to not only detect Cadence and Vertical Oscillation, but also breaking and pelvic movement. The measurement of braking force is rather different from RunScribe, as Lumo measures how much your overall body slows up with each stride, rather than measuring the deceleration of your foot in touch down. I believe that both approaches are important, and give valuable insight into possible biomechanical problems. In addition, Lumo will measure how much your hips (pelvis) will drop from side to side, and how much it rotates (twists). Lumo is not yet shipping, but the preliminary price is $80, which is fairly reasonable for this type of device. I really wish that Lumo would measure impact, as it would be great to know how much of the foot strike impact reaches the hips. I am planning on testing the Lumo in the near future.

7 Stryd

Power meters have helped cyclists for a number of years, providing a valuable metric around how hard the cyclist is exercising. Stryd is attempting to provide a power meter for runners, which superficially sounds like a good idea. Certainly, there are many problems with using Heart Rate to determine training intensity, and measuring VO2 is only practical in a laboratory, so and a power meter could be a better option. However Stryd actually measures movement and then calculates power. The details are a little unclear, as their website does not explain their approach or a well, nor do they seem to be any validation studies that I could find. It seems that Stryd measures Vertical Oscillation, braking and side-to-side (lateral) movement to calculate power, though it also measures Heart Rate and Ground Contact Time. It's a chest strap system, an it seems a lot Garmin's Running Dynamics. It seems likely that you could perform similar calculations using the Garmin system, but I find myself unconvinced by the approach.

8 Moov Now

Moov Now is the second generation of Moov activity monitors, and is a small ankle mounted pod. It supports various sports, including cycling, swimming, boxing, and general workout routines like crunches, plank, etc. The Moov Now will also act as a general purpose activity tracker, including sleep tracking. However, it's the running functionality that I'll focus on. The Moov Now uses ankle mounted accelerometers to give a number of metrics, including Cadence, Impact (at the tibia), and "range of motion" which is how far your leg swings from the furthest forward to the furthest back. I don't see the range of motion as a particularly useful metric, as it gives no indication if you are Over striding or not. However, I like the idea of getting impact metrics on the tibia (lower leg), as I suspect this is more relevant than the impact measured at your foot. It seems to me that your foot could undergo massive deceleration as your forefoot touches down without necessarily generating a huge amount of stress on your ankle, and even less stress on your knee. Unlike most activity monitors, it uses a replaceable battery that should last months, which is really nice, especially if you're traveling. It's a shame the Moov Now needs to be linked to a smart phone to work, as it means taking your phone on the run. The Moov Now seems to be an interesting device given its price, especially if you are interested in the other sports that it supports.


Zoi is unique in that it places sensors on both the foot and the torso. This allows it to gain a little more insight than other sensors as it knows about the movement of the foot and the torso independently. Eventually I expect to see a company produce a group of sensors placed on each foot, each knee, and the pelvis, which would give insight into the movement and impact forces across most of the body. In the meantime, Zoi is the only "multizone" sensor. It only has one Footpod, so it doesn't give you detailed foot strike information in the way that RunScribe can, though you could see them adding that functionality in the future. The Zoi gives quite a few metrics, including Cadence, Ground Contact Time, Vertical Oscillation, breaking (at the torso, not foot breaking), of Foot Strike type (fore, mid, heel), Foot impact, and some Pronation information. Zoi has a smartphone app that provides real time feedback and post-run analytics, but I've not seen any support for displaying metrics on a watch. Currently Zoi is on pre-order in Europe for 150 EUR. I'd like to test this system if I can get hold of one.

10 RPM2

RPM2 (Remote Performance Measurement/Monitoring) is a pair of insoles that fit into your normal running shoes. These insoles measure pressure and use accelerometers to measure movement (a little like Sensoria). The details are not entirely clear from the web site, but they claim to measure Cadence, Ground Contact Time, Foot Strike, and "acceleration power". The system also claims to measure running power, though I'm not sure of the methodology. The RPM2 system measure pressure in four areas (Sensoria has three), giving a Pronation measurement. There are notes that RPM2 insoles are not waterproof, which is rather disconcerting, and if you run in different shaped shoes the fitment is likely to be problematic. The sizing of the insoles needs to take into account the position of the ball of the foot to ensure the sensor is in the right place. The system supports both Ant+ and Bluetooth so there is both a phone app and some information that can be displayed on a watch (it's not clear if this is more than just power). The system can also be used as a power meter for cycling.

11 Moxy

Moxy uses the same approach as BSX, using infrared light to detect the oxygen saturation of the muscles of blood. Moxy is not as easy to use as the BSX, but it's the data seems to be rather more reliable, though it requires rather more effort to interpret.

Here data from a Moxy test, showing a clear decline in SmO2.

12 BSX

The BSX Lactate Threshold Monitor attempts to estimates your Lactate Threshold by measuring the oxygen saturation of the blood within your muscles. The results of the first version were extremely disappointing, but I have not had the opportunity to fully test the updated hardware. However, even if the BSX works perfectly, its value is limited by the relative ineffectiveness of Lactate Threshold Training. You can read about my testing at BSX.

The dashboard view of the BSX app, showing previous results.