Football, Knee Ligament Injury...Is it the Shoes?

Doctor's View Archive

AMARILLO--Football is known to be a sport with the potential for temporary or permanent injury. Minimizing and preventing bodily injury is a goal of sports medicine researchers.

Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament is a frequent knee injury of football players. This injury has in part been related to the foot plant and simultaneous torque motions which occur with rapid directional changes during play.

A recent study, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, by Rick B. Lambson, EdD, and associates studied 3119 high school football players at nine different schools--all of which used natural turf playing surfaces. They measured the torque resistance of four different football cleat designs and the injury rates of players using these cleats.

The authors found that the design of the football cleats influenced the torque resistance and correlated with the rate of inner knee ligament (anterior cruciate ligament) injury.

The shoes that had longer irregular cleats at the peripheral margin of the sole with a number of smaller pointed cleats positioned interiorly ("Edge" design) had significantly greater torque resistance and increased rate of arthroscopically proven anterior cruciate ligament injury. This increased injury rate was 3.4 times that of shoes that had cleats of the same height and shape, had screw-in cleats, or had a circular pivot disk on the sole of the forefoot (grouped as "non-Edge" design).

The authors concluded that Edge cleat design for football shoes may significantly contribute to the risk of serious knee injury. They further recommended that the non-Edge cleat be used to prevent major knee injury.

For related information, please see the Arthroscopy and Knee Pain articles.

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