The start of the football season often means new boots. Finding the right boot is important for both comfort and injury prevention. The following information will help you decide on the boot that is best for you.
Features to look for:
Upper – In recent times much research has gone into developing the optimal combination of materials for use in the upper. For instance there are uppers which are designed to enable the player to add spin to the ball and there are uppers that incorporate chemical coatings to provide additional grip. The upper needs to be strong enough to support your foot during rapid changes in direction and when kicking. Combination leather and synthetic uppers are the strongest particularly when reinforced with ample stitching. Kangaroo leather is becoming particularly popular due to its strength and ability to mould well to the foot, whilst remaining very light.
Heel counter – The heel counter or heel cup needs to be very rigid to support your rear foot during swerving & stepping. A sturdy deep heel cup can prevent injuries especially in young footballers.
Midsole – More and more boots today have midsoles or wedges under the heel and even the forefoot much like a touch football boot (hybrid between joggers and a conventional boot). A boot with a midsole provides cushioning and support which is desirable for injury prevention. These are particularly good for young footballers that suffer from heel pain or ‘severs’(growth plate inflammation) or any player that suffers from lower limb injuries such as shin splints, Achilles tendonopathy and chronic knee pain. The extra bulk in this type of boot is the only downside and serious players often prefer to use them for training only whilst staying with the traditional style boot for game day.
Outsole – The outsole must be rigid and match the width of the foot. A narrow outsole will cause the foot to hang over the edge of the sole and place more pressure on the upper, which decreases the stability of the boot. The outsole should only flex at the forefoot in the position that the toes bend, all other movement in the outsole should be minimal.
Moulded Vs Screw-in studs – Football and rugby in Queensland is generally played on very hard surfaces, therefore, a moulded boot is far more suitable and a lot safer. It is important to make sure there are no studs positioned directly under the big toe joint and that the studs do not stop the boot flexing where it is suppose to – under the ball of the foot. Many footwear companies are using cleats/blades rather than the traditional circular stud shape. The advantage of a cleat system is the ability to provide greater grip without increasing the weight of the boot. Anyone who has had a knee reconstruction or suffers from instability in the knee joint should be careful not to use an aggressive cleat design as the increased grip may cause the foot to remain stuck in the turf whilst the upper leg rotates, potentially leading to excessive twisting through the knee.
Fit – a correctly fitted boot is an important factor in prevention and treatment of foot injuries. There should always be a thumb nail width from the longest toe to the end of the boot. There should also be adequate depth to ensure your foot sits securely in the boot.
At Brisbane Sports and Exercise Medicine Specialists, our Podiatrist Craig will assess your foot type, gait pattern and foot function, as well as offer advice on appropriate footwear for your particular foot type and chosen sport.