If you’re a serious runner battling injury, picking the perfect running shoe can be key to getting back on your feet.
If your shoe isn’t suited to your gait or strike, it can cause serious issues for distance runners.
Many stores will offer gait analysis to match yourself up with the right shoes. That analysis is usually free to do and will offer a much more detailed insight into the type of shoe that will offer the best support for when you get moving.
But for many, it’s not easy to get into a store to do that analysis – and that’s where Mymo comes into the picture. The wearable sensor will let you do the gait analysis from anywhere and will even recommend running shoes that best fit your profile.
Mymo was developed by its founder and CEO Craig Downs, who says he was sold the wrong type of shoe in a store and puts it down to getting injured. He believes this wearable can make up for the inconsistent assessments you can get in-store where staff are not always qualified to undertake a gait assessment.
So can the £40 Mymo actually pick out the right running shoe and if it’s worth spending that money on something you could do for free. We put it to the test to find out if this is a wearable to help kickstart your running in 2021.
How does Mymo work?
The Mymo setup is made up of a small pod that’s about the same size as a running footpod sensor like the Stryd. Inside lies an accelerometer and gyroscope, for tracking motion.
When that pod is placed inside of a neoprene sock, it will conduct a one minute test on each foot.
That test involves running on a flat surface. During that time, those sensors collect your raw motion data, which is pushed to the cloud and crunched with Mymo’s algorithms to produce data that will reveal details about your running gait. It considers foot strike, pronation and contact time, and compares that data to others with similar gait profiles to make that running shoe recommendation.
Mymo says it can promise a 94.6% accuracy for capturing this data and believes it’s more accurate at performing this analysis than the kind of assessment you get in-store. It’s published an academic paper to back up its findings with the setup.
Doing the Mymo test
Getting set up is pretty straightforward. The pod uses the kind CR2032 coin cell battery that’s used to power watches and heart rate monitor chest straps that sits inside. There’s a button on top to wake up the pod and to help pair it to your phone over Bluetooth.
Once you’ve downloaded the Mymo companion phone app on either your Android or iPhone (Android in our case), it’s a pretty simplistic place to navigate.
The main screen is your dashboard where you can start tests, see test results and access the list of suggested shoes based on your results. There’s also a dropdown menu where you can check on things like battery level on the pod and get a breakdown of how conducting a test works.
With the pod paired, you can slip it inside of the pocket placed on the outside of the neoprene sock you need to slip onto your barefoot. There’s just one, so you’ll need to swap it over to your other foot to complete the test, but there’s no need to remove the pod from its pouch during that time.
Like an in-store gait analysis, you don’t wear shoes as they will likely already be offering some form of cushioning support for your feet that will skew the data.
When it’s time to the test, you’ll be asked to stand still for a short period to calibrate the sensor and then get running for just under 50 seconds.
The first thing to notice is that if you’re performing this test on your own outside, it would be useful to have some form of alert to know when the test has been completed.
If you’re doing the test indoors on treadmill (as we did), you need to make sure you have somewhere to prop up your device too.
The test is very simple and there’s easy to follow instructions, though there’s no mention of running at a particular speed, so it’s very much on you to just run as naturally as you can. Once you’ve completed the test on both feet, it’ll start crunching the numbers and then will need to sync the data to the companion app.
What the data says
Once data is synced, you can jump into the my Test Results section where you’ll see a list of your logged tests. What you’ll find inside of those results records is a breakdown for each foot, pronation (natural movement of foot) in degrees, foot strike, contact time along with a recommendation of the type of shoe you should opt for.
We conducted 10 tests in total and looking at the raw data, things like pronation data didn’t always the same. It was always within 1-2 degrees of the previous test, but never identical. Is that good or bad and is that a fine enough margin for error? It’s not really made clear here.
Ground contact time is a metric we’ve come accustomed to with running watches and sportier smartwatches and those numbers appeared consistent with our tests. Again though, there’s a big assumption that people will know what this data means.
The tests consistently suggested we had a forefoot strike, which based on running gait assessments we’ve done previously was an accurate analysis of that aspect of our gait.
Ultimately though, the Mymo setup needs to do a much better job of explaining and giving context to what makes up gait. If you knew nothing about running, you’d be struggling to make sense of what it all means and right away that’s going to leave users asking more questions.
Find my running shoe
The last part of the assessment is the shoe recommendation and based on our data, we were told to go for a neutral running shoe. Again, there’s no explanation of what a neutral running shoe is.
Heading to the MyProducts section of the app, there’s a list of men’s neutral running shoes that you can filter based on brand, fit, maximum heel drop, maximum weight and colours.
Much like the explanation (or lack of explanation) of the elements that make up the gait analysis, it’s a similar story with regards to breaking down the anatomy of a running shoe.
When you jump into a shoe profile, you’ll be given the RRP price with a description of the shoe from Mymo.
It’ll also break down shoe type, weight, heel drop, fit and colours. The shoe profiles don’t push you out to any retailer, which is good to see. It’s all about providing you with the shoe choices and ultimately letting you choose where you buy it from.
But there’s still a huge list of shoes provided here and while the Mymo system may be able to recommend the type of shoe to go for, it still feels like it needs to ask a lot more questions to whittle those shoes down and make it easier to make a choice. It has no knowledge of the type or amount of running you do or even the type of surfaces you run on.
Mymo needs to do a better job of bridging the knowledge gap that many will have when looking for a running shoe.
Should you buy Mymo?
Mymo feels like something that falls into a trap that a lot of wearable tech startups fall into. It’s created something that gives anyone the ability to carry out a gait analysis from anywhere, when you’d normally have step inside a shop to do. At a time when it’s hard to do that and there’s arguably more people running than ever, there’s value in a device like this existing.
Ultimately though, did Mymo help us pick the ideal running shoe? Well, not quite.
There’s an overriding feeling that it makes a huge assumption users will also have some foundation of knowledge about what your gait data means and what you should look for in a running shoe. Even with our core knowledge, it still left us with a list of shoes that fit our gait profile, but still didn’t really help us hone in on a few shoes that might be the ones to spend on.
It’s a device that feels like it would be great for someone that’s entirely new to running and doesn’t know where to start with picking a running shoe. It does however need to do a much better job of holding the user’s hand through the process, breaking down the terminology, explaining what your gait data means and asking more questions about your running to better guide that decision.
These are things that feel like Mymo could add to improve that. Until it does though, it’s a tough one to recommend for anyone hoping this is going to pick your perfect running shoe.