Can We Trust What Our Wearable Tech Tells Us?

Sometime last year I was doing a running gait analysis on a patient, like I have done many times in the past. Their feet struck loudly on the treadmill and I was seeing them for anterior knee pain, so I decided to do some gait re-training.

Using motor learning principles, I wanted to provide immediate feedback. My best option was my own personal running watch that was equipped with running dynamics (Garmin Fenix 2).  As I was coaching the patient through the program I began to wonder just how much I was willing to place my faith in wearable tech. I love the availability of running dynamics on my wrist, but I wasn’t sure just how accurate or reliable the data really was.

Once the question on the validity and reliability of the watch popped into my head, I had to answer it. Fast-forward almost 14 months later, and my answer is finally available in a new JOSPT article that was just published this summer.

What we found was that the watch was valid for cadence and vertical oscillation (VO), and reliable for cadence, VO, and ground contact time. These findings open up the ability to provide meaningful and reliable data outside of an expensive laboratory setting.

I am a huge proponent of wearable tech, and I believe we are at the start of great advances in health and medicine as our understanding of the what/why/how of wearable devices develops.

I would also love to hear what tech you use on a regular basis, your thoughts on the future of wearable tech, and how you make sure the tech is accurate and reliable.

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