Gait Aid

Could a new pair of kicks kick-start a healthy habit?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ah, an early morning run! Fresh air, golden sunshine, lush scenery… huffing-and-puffing, chest pains, shin splints! How can we have the FUN of running without all that hard work?

Steven Collins at Stanford University and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon have your fix! They’ve developed an exoskeleton that you wear on your ankle. Think “robo-sock.” It helps your calf muscle by pulling your heel in sync with your steps.

To test it out, Collins recruited eleven competitive runners. They ran on a treadmill wearing either robo-socks or regular running shoes. They also wore masks that monitored the flow of air through their lungs. Collins used these readings to measure the runners’ energy usage.

Results? Runners wearing robo-socks spent almost fifteen percent less energy! That just might be enough to inspire non-joggers to lace up and hit the track!

Just try not to lose THESE socks in the laundry!