The Science Behind the Baliston Connect™ App’s Biometrics
The sensor modules in Baliston shoes contain inertial measurement units (IMUs) that measure both movement and rotation in 3D, in order to capture and communicate data to the Baliston Connect aApp. Sophisticated AI algorithms synthesize this data to provide personalized insights and recommendations to the user, increasing their knowledge of how to reduce fatigue, back pain, and injury risk.
Baliston works closely with health experts and movement specialists to combine advanced biomechanical research with the latest in smart tech, an output of which is a suite of biometrics that each reveal unique context about your walking DNA. But how are these metrics defined? Here’s a digestible explanation for each metric found on the Baliston App.
Walking Quality Score
Walking Quality Score factors in several of Baliston’s core proprietary biometrics to provide an all-encompassing summary of the caliber of your walking. Propulsion, heel impact force, stride length, and symmetry – all explained below – comprise the Walking Quality Score and capture a holistic view of your gait. Improving the Walking Quality Score, and in turn, your walking technique, will take time, but the goal is to see your score gradually improve. An improving score indicates reduced risk of injury and helps to reduce fatigue and back pain. Whereas a declining score may indicate reduction in fitness level or development of musculoskeletal or neurological conditions that warrant discussion with a specialist.
Propulsion describes the speed and angle at which your foot leaves the ground as you step. Low propulsion indicates that you’re likely not engaging your calf muscles enough as you walk. Incorporating a few simple exercises into your daily regimen, like toe and calf raises, can help boost your propulsion.
Heel Impact Force
Heel Impact Force is the force at which your heel impacts the ground as each step lands. Too heavy of an impact can cause lower leg pain and put excess strain on your knees. To minimize discomfort and reduce the force of your heel’s impact, practice walking lightly. Doing exercises like lunges, squats, and knee extensions will strengthen your quadriceps muscles and give you increased control over being able to walk lightly. Of course, keeping your weight at a healthy level as recommended by a health professional will help minimize the force of each heel impact.
Symmetry is the difference in time spent between the left and right phases of your gait, essentially measuring how balanced you are as you walk. A perfect value would be 100%, meaning the left and right phases are completely even. Some asymmetry in your walking is normal, for example, your legs may be of slightly different lengths, or you may have an injury or pain in your legs, ankles or feet. If your symmetry is less than 85%, and none of these common causes of asymmetry are at play, that’s a sign you may need to consult a specialist.
After understanding the common causes for asymmetry, if you want to improve your walking symmetry, focus first on your posture. Next, address any underlying strength imbalances by doing exercises that strengthen your weakest leg.
Stride length is the distance between two successive heel impacts of the same foot. Stride length and step length are not the same, but quite similar. While stride length is the distance between two heel contacts of one foot, step length is about half of a stride length and describes the distance between the heel impact of one foot and the heel impact of the other foot.
Stride length can be increased with better posture, flexibility, balance, and strength.
Pronation and Supination
Pronation is the natural rolling motion from the outside to the inside of your foot. It helps in shock absorption by distributing the impact of each step across the foot and lower leg muscles, reducing the stress on any single part of your foot.
However, if your foot rolls inwards too much and more of your weight is on the inside of your foot as you walk, with little space between the floor and the arch of your foot, this is called overpronation. Approximately 45% of the population are overpronators.
If your foot rolls outwards too much and more of your weight is on the outside of your foot as you walk, with a hollow between the floor and the arch of your foot, this is called oversupination. Approximately 10% of the population are oversupinators.
Many factors can influence your pronation. For example, the type of shoes, your insoles, your anatomy, and your gait pattern. Reducing overpronation or oversupination can be achieved with the use of appropriate insoles, shoes, or specific ankle and leg exercises. Consult a specialist if you have any questions.
Pronation analysis is a part of one of the reports you can unlock in the Baliston Connect™ Journey tab after wearing your Baliston® shoes for an extended time, along with Musculature Score and Joint Mobility Score which are explained below.
The Musculature Score assesses your walking from a muscle engagement perspective and incorporates speed, stride length, propulsion, and heel impact force. The score is increased with higher speed, longer stride length, and higher propulsion, but is reduced by high heel impact force. Having a higher score also means you are improving your cardiorespiratory fitness and reducing your risk of disease.
Joint Mobility Score
The Joint Mobility Score assesses your walking from a joint mobility and health perspective and incorporates stride length and the angles of the foot as your foot comes off the ground. The score is increased with a longer stride length and a larger range of motion in your ankles.
The Intense Activity metric tracks how much time each week you spend doing intense activity in accordance with recommendations from major health organizations, such as the World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendations are that adults should spend at least 150 minutes per week doing moderate intensity activities, like brisk walking, OR at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activities, like running. Baliston shoes are ideally suited for brisk walking!