Traction and Lower Extremity Noncontact Injury

Wannop JW, Luo G, & Steganyshyn DJ.
Medicine and Science in Sports and
. 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?  
by: Nicole Cattano
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