Activity Specific

Activity Specific Footwear

Footwear traditionally accepted without question for specific activities can result in pain and injury, and is found to have limited research, as well as some surprising research outcomes. This all adds up to some interesting challenges for the clinician.

It is interesting to consider the types of specialist footwear that haven’t altered to any degree in form or function over many, many years despite the advances in biomechanics, science and technology.

Football boots are a perfect example, with very little obvious change in basic design for over 100 years, and a design focus that seems to be as much about fashion as it does injury prevention. (graphic)

When we look a bit further we see manufacturer’s claims on the science and technology of their new models:

The ‘Lethal Testimonial 4 IT’ is a high performance football boot containing many years of biomechanical research and an array of technological advances in boot construction… It is also outfitted with HG10mm (H-G ten millimetre) technology, raising the heel by 10mm, designed to shift the body forward, reducing strain on the lower limb and minimising the risk of injury.

As reported, in the International Journal of Sports Medicine: Investigators from Germany had players perform complex one hundred and eighty degree turning movements, while wearing studded and bladed boots. They found that knee stress and unwanted movements were similar between the two types of cleat design. This lead the researchers to conclude that players are at no higher risk of knee joint injury wearing either style of cleat.


And Golf shoes, with their traditionally ‘inflared’ sole units and limited flexibility. (graphic)

Shoes do need to provide stability, support and traction while allowing divergent use of both feet and minimising the discomfort and fatigue associated with negotiating a golf course’s variable topography. It is a formidable challenge for a single shoe design to meet the complex biomechanical demands of the golf swing while providing enough comfort to traverse uneven ground.


Next up are Basketball boots, with its seemingly entrenched ‘high top’ design, and notoriously flexible sole construction on a zero drop heel to forefoot pitch. graphic

This research published in The Journal Of Foot and Ankle Research looked at…


…the effect of high-top and low-top shoes on ankle inversion kinematics and muscle activation in landing on a tilted surface and found that…

wearing high-top shoes can, in certain conditions, induce a delayed pre-activation timing and decreased amplitude of evertor (evert-or) muscle activity, and may therefore have a detrimental effect on establishing and maintaining functional ankle joint stability.


Ballet flats and pointe shoes are an interesting foot covering (graphic)

( )

Simply walking in pointe shoes doubles the peak pressures acting on the foot compared to barefoot. In addition rising into the relevé position from a flat footed position increases the peak pressure by a further 30  N/cm (newtons per centimetre).