Racefox digital coaching service to detect warning signs for injuries after just 12 minutes of running

Christer Norström

Company is leveraging €2.5 million in Horizon2020 EU research funding to hire a Chief Medical Officer and research staff to analyze data from running sessions

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Racefox, the Swedish company helping the world’s runners and skiers improve their performance and prevent injuries, is researching how to enhance its data-driven real-time digital coaching service, with the goal of helping runners detect injury warning signs in as fast as 12 minutes. The Phase 2 research is being financed with €2.5 million in Horizon2020 EU research funding.

Up to 75 percent of runners get injured every year, according to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling in an article published by Harvard Health Publishing, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. Currently, there’s no cost-effective, simple method for the early detection of imbalances in the body that may lead to injury, according to Racefox’s new Chief Medical Officer Erik Rönnblad. Existing tests used to detect running injuries are prohibitively expensive and limited to lab settings, which means they’re out of reach for most casual runners.

Racefox wants to help the world’s runners catch potential problems early and prevent injuries. To enhance its existing data-driven solution, the company is using the Horizon2020 funding to test its data models and assumptions about the causes of running injuries.  Phase 1 included strategy development and data collection from approximately 130,000 training sessions involving 5,000 Racefox users. Phase 2 research will involve strategy execution and collaboration with medical professionals to help with hypothesis validation.

The Racefox digital coaching service requires runners to wear a chest-based heart-rate sensor and run with their smartphone or smartwatch to collect full-body movement in real-time. “Racefox collected data during sessions with runners who self-report pain during or after a run, making our data much more insightful and useful than data gathered in a lab,” Rönnblad said. “The end result will be a cost-effective means for runners to quickly evaluate if they’re at risk of injury. Racefox wants to coach people on their personal goals, be it running a personal best, a longer distance or just remaining injury-free.  Being able to spot weakness before pain arrives keeps athletes healthier.”

When running, people are exposed to large loads – up to three to five times their body weight. Several factors influence the impact of running on the body, including the training of the runner, and how well-balanced the runner’s body is. Racefox’s whole-body data collection analyzes how the body responds to this natural and repetitive load.

Running has been “a very big part” of Josefine Swärm’s life since running her first race at age 7. After suffering a knee injury from running the Stockholm Marathon, Josefine Swärm, a Swedish runner, entered an early pilot program with Racefox.   As part of the program, Josefine was connected to a physiotherapist who could not only help her but provide valuable insights back to Racefox.  “Although Josefine experienced right knee pain, under physical investigation it was discovered that she had a locked left hip,” says Rönnblad.  “The body has very complicated interdependencies.  Physical examination is critical to this phase of our research.”

“My goal is to last forever and to do so, I have to run smart to prevent unnecessary injuries that could have been avoided,” Swärm said. “Two months have passed and I can now run 20K without any pain. I am working myself back. Looking to the future, I will use Racefox to do weekly follow-ups to analyze my running and to get insights on how I can improve and avoid future injuries.”

Horizon2020 views research as a means of securing Europe’s economic competitiveness and an investment in the future. The initiative is the largest EU research and innovation program, with nearly €80 billion in funding available over seven years, from 2014 to 2020.

To support its objectives, Racefox is using the Horizon2020 funding to:

  • Prove the hypothesis that running for only 12 minutes can reveal strength and flexibility weaknesses in the body
  • Hire Erik Rönnblad as Chief Medical Officer and two PhD candidates to manage this phase of research. Rönnblad earned his medical degree from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2008. He is a consultant orthopedic surgeon and Assisting Chief Physician at Capio Artro Clinic, the most renowned sports medicine clinic in Sweden. He also serves as a consultant orthopedic surgeon for Ski Team Sweden Alpine
  • Collaborate with medical professionals to validate research findings and train the data models

Racefox is currently available by subscription. The company was the first to market with a cost-effective method to do a full-body analysis for possible asymmetries that could potentially lead to injury. 


About Racefox
Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Racefox improves the performance of world-class athletes and casual runners and skiers with the world’s first real-time digital coach for running and cross country skiing. In addition, Racefox detects and addresses potential imbalances that may lead to injury.  The company was formed in 2013 as a spin-off of the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS) at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The science behind Racefox combines biomechanics with data science and artificial intelligence, and is the result of the founders’ research at SICS.

For more information, visit https://www.racefox.com/en/home
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and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/wememove-ab/.


Holly Hagerman
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