Technology reduces sports injuries – and not just for elite athletes

Technology reduces sports injuries – and not just for elite athletes

Danish startup ZOLES uses new technology to make customised sports insoles, which prevent sports injuries whatever the user’s age, level or sporting activity.

Sponsored: This article is published in collaboration with ZOLES.

A 3D-scan precisely measures your feet. Some nifty algorithms process the scanned data. The system then automatically designs the insoles so that they are a perfect fit for your sporting activity, e.g. badminton or cycling. Finally, the insoles are 3D printed, perfect for your needs and feet.

Excellent insoles are not only comfortable when running or walking, they actually prevent injuries. By using state-of-the-art technologies, Danish start-up ZOLES takes insoles to a whole new level and at a price most of us can afford.

“Some of our customers have experienced injuries already, and we help to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But ideally, we want people to avoid becoming injured in the first place – staying active is difficult if you get sore knees every time you do sport. In collaboration with universities and doctors, we have learned that a great many injuries in the legs and joints could be avoided if people just wore the correct insoles,” said Cecilie Lisberg, co-founder and CEO at ZOLES.

Developed with help from elite athletes – for the benefit of everyone

Customised insoles is not a new practice in the sporting world. But until now it has been cobbler-style, manual cut-and-glue work using standard insoles to begin with. ZOLES has revolutionised the method, by using 3D printed insoles that have the perfect shape for individual feet down to the last millimetre.

“We are the only people developing insoles who use technology from start to finish. We have the most advanced biomechanical AI (editor’s note: artificial intelligence) to do this across different sporting activities, so the insoles provide the support that is required for the specific sport,” explained Lisberg.

The insoles are not only made for the individual person, but also for the individual sporting activity. The company has collaborated with a number of prominent athletes in order to train the algorithms correctly – badminton insoles are developed in collaboration with the YONEX Peter Gade Academy, handball insoles with Daniel Svensson and AJAX København handball club, and football insoles with a number of Danish top-level league (Superliga) football clubs.

“We have used elite athletes to develop insoles for the benefit of everyone else doing sports. We do it this way for two reasons: for branding purposes and for testing insoles in the environments that really matter. Because if the insoles are great for elite footballers, then they are also great for Joe Bloggs down the road who plays in his local club every Tuesday and Thursday,” said Lisberg.

More focus on insoles

Customised insoles are still a relatively specialised product, but the ZOLES co-founder expects that in just a few short years we will see a shift where more and more people discover what a good insole can do for them when doing sports.

“All of us are getting older and older. We want to stay active for as long as possible and we can do this if we take care of our bodies. So it makes sense that we already use aids in our 20s if we want to do sport when we’re 70,” said Lisberg.

Facts: ZOLES’ new software

The startup company has developed three types of software which are necessary for providing customers with customised insoles in an effective way.

  • Zola: A chatbot that interviews the customer. It covers demographic information, any current physical irritations and what kind of environment the insole will be used in. The data is then compared with the 3D scan and all of the biomechanical data is used to make the “diagnosis”.
  • Ortho: Biomechanical algorithms take the biomechanical data and calculate where the insole shall provide the most optimal function for a given sport.
  • Inco: Designs the 3D model based on the input from the two other systems, so that the insole is ready for 3D printing. All done in under one second.

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