HIT THE GROUND RUNNING WITH THE RIGHT FOOTBALL BOOTS AS THE SEASON KICKS OFF
It’s about that time of the year that you or your kids are looking for your football boots, finding them at the back of the cupboard – dusting off the cobwebs in anticipation for yet another season of winter sports. Here at East Gosford Podiatry, we are dedicated to reducing injury risk, increasing comfort and keeping players on the field this winter sports season.
Football boots, whatever your code should be supportive, comfortable, be able to withstand the demands in your chosen sport to be able to accelerate, change direction and stop without any foot pain or discomfort.
Need for Speed
Typically, boots are low profile (no heel raise) with minimal upper support and heel counter stability in comparison to a standard ‘’big brand’’ jogger. The demands of our much-loved winter field sports require players to be at full speed, stop and change direction suddenly consistently throughout the match and during training.
Remember when you are at full speed regardless of ground/age/size you are generating force at several times your body weight and unfortunately your feet are the body part that initially takes the impact.
With a lot of our everyday footwear, be it joggers, school shoes and most casual footwear etc, will often have a heel pitch up to 10mm, thus helping to reduce the impact and strain to the posterior muscle groups specifically the Achilles tendon.
With football boots – we are now seeing more research and development going into boots, a far cry from the ‘ólden days’ where boots had a block of timber in the front of the boot, made of a hard unforgiving black leather and had steel studs nailed into the sole of the shoe… ask your grandfather about them.
I’m happy to see new features coming out in boots as the years go on, different stud/outsole patterns and materials, firmer heel counters, heel pitches, and midsoles!!
One size doesn’t fit all
Like joggers, boots that are made by different companies will have a variation between sizes, ie a size 9 in a Nike will be different in width and potentially length than a size 9 Asics or New Balance.
Remember to take your playing socks with you to try on the boots as they will have an impact on the sizing as well.
Supporting what supports you
Do you wear orthotics? Taking these with you boot shopping is important so that you ensure they fit correctly in the boot and to your foot.
Orthotics can be modified/streamlined and de-bulked to fit into most footwear. In the clinic, we have seen an increase in patients requesting their orthoses be adapted to their football boots with great success.
Over the years I have adjusted many orthotics to fit in tight-fitting running spikes, women’s dress footwear, and numerous football boots. I personally think it’s crazy that you wouldn’t have your orthotics fitted to your football boots, where your foot is under more intense pressure and strain compared to when you are going about your everyday activities.
Specific sports or positions on the field will gravitate towards a specific boot, stud configuration, and style. For example:
- Rugby players who require grip and stability require screw-in stud patterns for the tight 5
- Strikers on the Soccer field know the importance of a lightweight boot where speed, firm fit, and accuracy in shooting are key.
Keeping your options open
If it’s not practical to wear orthotics due to the demands of your sport, the particular position that you play or your child just simply won’t wear what they need to – utilizing NON-orthotic in-shoe modifications and additions can help to increase comfort and reduce your risk for injury.
These can include:
- Heel lifts and wedging
- Forefoot padding & cushioning
- Application of Metatarsal Dome and deflection sites
- Alternate Lacing techniques
- Stud grinding/adjustment of outsole
In the East Gosford Podiatry clinic, we have an onsite lab and clinical knowhow to make these adjustments during our consultations.
Pain in the heel?
If you or your children have had a history of foot/ankle or lower limb complaints, it is important that you purchase the appropriate boot to accommodate and support your feet.
One example and very common issue seen regularly in our active kids is a condition ‘Severs Disease’ (roughly around the ages of 8-13 years – often seen during growth spurts), where pain develops at the base of the heel, Utilizing the 10mm heel pitch is a great assistive device to reduce and offload pressure to this Achilles region. Asics do a fantastic range (Lethal and DS ranges) not only offering heel pitch but shock absorption as well and should be investigated for the above mentioned group of players.
Bend it like Beckham
DID YOU KNOW…
- Many English Premier League players have in shoe modifications /additions to assist with blister prevention and injury management/rehabilitation?
- Most teams in the AFL and NRL have a consulting Podiatrist who forms part of the medical team?
Whether you are in your 1st or 20th season… Get prepared now to play your best season! Play well this winter, and most importantly have fun and enjoy your sports!
A big shout out and best wishes to the Saratoga Hawks AFL, East Gosford Rams Soccer Club, Central Coast United, and the Avoca Sharks Rugby Union club!
Principle Podiatrist/ Co-Owner of East Gosford Podiatry
Tim has a clinical focus in Sports Podiatry and regularly assists AFL and Soccer teams on the Central Coast.