Sports Medicine Research: In the Lab & In the Field: Is it All About the Shoes? (Sports Med Res)
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Is it All About the Shoes?

Footwear Traction and Lower Extremity Noncontact Injury

Wannop JW, Luo G, & Steganyshyn DJ. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2013; 45 (11): 2137-2143. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318299ac56

Take Home Message: High rotational or low translational traction between footwear and playing surfaces have been linked with the greatest percentage of severe non-contact injuries.   

Traction between a playing surface and an athlete’s footwear is necessary for sport performance but it may contribute to non-contact acute lower extremity injuries.  Rotational traction has been linked with anterior cruciate ligament injuries; however, it is unclear if translational traction is also related to injuries.  This study investigated the relationships between footwear rotational and translational traction on actual playing surfaces and non-contact lower extremity injuries. The authors monitored 555 high school football athletes during a three year period.  Playing surface changed over the 3 years; therefore, traction was measured on both artificial turf and grass surfaces with each athlete’s selected footwear. The authors tested shoes using a validated mechanical protocol with standardized speed, position, and load.  Overall, athletic therapists reported 58 noncontact lower extremity injuries among the 555 athletes. Traction was categorically grouped and the authors found that low translational traction or high rotational traction had the greatest percentages of severe injuries.

This is one of the first studies to investigate translational traction in addition to rotational traction.  It appears that footwear that offers high translational traction but lower rotational traction would be ideal.  The question remains if there are certain shoes that may be able to achieve these traction variables.  The authors noted that mechanism of injury was based on athlete recall and that testing was done on one specific day so it did not take into account environmental variables that may affect playing surface traction conditions.  While this study is interesting, it was done on a high school football population and it would be of further interest to see if these findings would be replicated in other sporting populations on their respective surfaces.  Perhaps if these variables were studied in a female soccer or basketball population, it would be interesting given the higher incidence of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injuries. This study will hopefully prompt further research to help us advise our athletes; but, in the meantime it is a nice reminder that we must consider the effect of footwear on different field surfaces.          

Questions for Discussion: Do you think that athletes would be open to selecting footwear based on traction variables? Do you think sex influences the relationship between footwear-field traction and non-contact injuries?  
 
Written by: Nicole Cattano
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Driban

Related Posts:
Wannop JW, Luo G, & Stefanyshyn DJ (2013). Footwear traction and lower extremity noncontact injury. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45 (11), 2137-43 PMID: 23657169

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