Good news for lazy joggers: Scientists develop ankle ‘exoskeleton’ that makes running 14 per cent easier than in normal sports shoes

  • Robotic exoskeleton was created by robotics experts at Stanford University
  • Funded by Nike it was revealed the device saves energy while running 
  • Slashes energy expenditure by 14 per cent compared to normal running shoes  
  • Hoped it will one day help individuals with disabilities exercise as well as allowing soldiers and emergency services to run faster and longer

Couch potatoes trying to get in shape could one day be helped along their fitness journey by an ankle exoskeleton that makes it easier and less tiring to run.  

The robotic device attaches to the ankle of joggers and was found in lab tests to slash energy expenditure by 14 per cent when compared to standard running shoes. 

It was created by robotics experts at Stanford University and funded in part by sporting behemoth Nike.

The engineers behind the project say the equipment currently only works on a treadmill and when the device is hooked up to a machine via cables. 

However, they are working to make the exoskeleton portable and lightweight and easy to integrate into future running equipment.

It is hoped that in future the technology will help individuals with disabilities exercise as well as allowing soldiers and emergency services to run faster and longer.   

Couch potatoes trying to get in shape could one day be helped along their fitness journey by an ankle exoskeleton that makes it easier and less tiring to run. The robotic device attaches to the ankle of joggers and was found in lab tests to slash energy expenditure by 14 per cent

Couch potatoes trying to get in shape could one day be helped along their fitness journey by an ankle exoskeleton that makes it easier and less tiring to run. The robotic device attaches to the ankle of joggers and was found in lab tests to slash energy expenditure by 14 per cent

Dr Kirby Witte designed the exoskeleton and constantly tweaked and improved its design. 

Eventually a version was created which helped runners on a treadmill save an average of 24 per cent more energy compared with wearing an unpowered device. 

The exoskeleton also helped runners gain an average energy saving of 14 per cent compared with regular shoes. 

Commercially available assistive shoes, such as the controversial Nike’s Vaporfly marathon footwear, can reduce the metabolic cost of running by four per cent. 

Researchers in the study, published today in the journal Scientific Robotics, looked at two methods of mechanical assistance for runners. 

The exoskeleton was created by robotics experts at Stanford University and funded in part by sporting behemoth Nike. It is hoped that in future the technology will help individuals with disabilities exercise as well as allowing soldiers and emergency services to run faster

The exoskeleton was created by robotics experts at Stanford University and funded in part by sporting behemoth Nike. It is hoped that in future the technology will help individuals with disabilities exercise as well as allowing soldiers and emergency services to run faster

The first was powered ankle assistance which provides extra force to compliment the joint’s natural movement. 

This was found to reduce energy expenditure of wearers and lowered their metabolic rate, indicating they were not working as hard. 

Its second feature tested out as part of the study was the addition of an extra spring-like push onto the ankle. 

While this did slightly reduce energy expenditure, by around two per cent, it actually increased the metabolic rate by around 11 per cent. 

Researchers hope that by making it easier people to run, it may encourage people to lead less sedentary lifestyles. 

For example, according to a 2018 study, around 25 per cent of Americans between 19 and 29 years old went on a run once in 12 months.

For people aged between 30 and 49 this figure drops to one in five. 

Many people say concerns about their fitness levels and fatigue are the principle reason they avoid leaving the house for a jog. 

Researchers hope that wearable technology that makes it easier to move may encourage more people to be active.  

Corresponding author Steve Collins said: ‘People are much less likely to engage in physical activity when it’s too hard, and making things a little easier can lead them to do so much more of it.’     





READ SOURCE

WHAT YOUR THOUGHTS

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here