Running is one of the most popular activities in the world, however, it results in nearly half of all runners experiencing an injury each year. These injuries aren’t limited to professional athletes but can affect recreational runners to the same extent, according to Reed Ferber. This University of Calgary researcher and director of the Running Injury Clinic, Ferber believes he has the solution to overcoming these injuries.

Ferber’s solution comes in the form of run3, which is the first system in the world to complete a 3D gait analysis with a single camera. By using 3D gait analysis, researchers and physicians can accurately examine a runner’s stride by turning them into a 3D model. After comparing the runner’s movement habits to a scientific norm, abnormalities become clear, providing insights as to what the root of the injury is and how their stride could be improved to prevent future injuries from happening.

“Every injury is a really complex puzzle,” says Ferber. “We need these types of scientific tools in order to gather all of the pieces of each runner’s puzzle and put it together in order to best help them.”

Although Ferber and his team were the first to bring a 3D gait analysis system using multiple cameras into a clinical setting, run3 is a more cost-effective and easily implemented option that widens its application to clinics and runners around the world. Run3 uses a single Microsoft Kinect 2.0 camera that only costs $150 while other systems require multiple 3D cameras worth $3,000 each, according to Ferber. The run3 software itself starts at $250 per month.

Russell Kohrs, a research assistant at the Running Injury Clinic, fractured his tibia while playing hockey and thus, he started running as a way to stay active. Kohrs says that he experienced firsthand the benefits of run3 and has been using it as a preventative measure to avoid agitating his tibia injury.

“I had some definite weakening and stiffening on my left side where I had that fracture,” says Kohrs. “I also tore out some on my right side, so it just gave some feedback on how I could correct my stride.”

Ashley Johnston, a first-year kinesiology student at the U of C says run3 solved her running injury in a way that a physician could not.

Through the use of the run3 technology, Ashley Johnston (right) was able to capture and model her stride in order to pinpoint the abnormalities and prevent herself from receiving further injury. Photo by Paul McAleer

“Recently, I’ve had left knee pain and whenever I’d go to physiotherapists, I would stretch it out on my left side and it worked temporarily but as soon as I would run again, it [the pain] would happen again so it was like an endless cycle,” says Johnston.

The data from run3 revealed that focusing on her left knee wasn’t going to help, and it was actually her right knee that was the root of the problem.

Ferber plans to add 100 new partners a year with run3 due to its low cost and accessibility. In the future, he wants to expand the reach of his software by branching out from a clinical setting into recreational areas, such as gyms or homes. He is even looking at merging the software with wearable technology, like Fitbit, to provide a runner with a tool akin to a “check engine light,” informing the user in real-time that something isn’t quite right. | 

The editor responsible for this article is Brandon Tucker | 

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