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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Insoles linked to sports injuries
Jogging
Sports shoes may increase injury risk
Textured insoles in boots and sports shoes could prevent the all too common foot and ankle injuries that plague sport, say researchers.

Conventional boots and sports shoes, with a smooth insole, are supposed to guard against injury.

But there is concern that a smooth insole may actually dampen sensory information used by the body to adjust movement accordingly.

The common inclusion of air cushions or gel cells in boots and trainers to absorb shock may make matters even worse.

An Australian team suggested that a textured insole would increase the amount of sensory information that was passed through to foot and hence allow the body to adjust appropriately, reducing the risk of injury.

They designed textured rubber insoles to fit the boots of 17 players from the Australian women's soccer team.

The researchers from from the University of Sydney School of Physiotherapy and the Canberra Hospital then analysed ankle movement when the women were wearing the boots with and without the insoles, or were bare-foot.

The results showed that the ability to move the ankle appropriately for the required conditions was significantly worse while wearing smooth insole boots and socks.

Barefoot comparisons

However, the results when the women were wearing the textured insoles were similar to when they were barefoot.

The sole of the foot is adapted for texture, and for optimal, low-injury performance some underfoot texture would seem to be required
Dr Gordon Waddington, researcher
The increased movement sensitivity provided by textured insoles could help reduce foot and ankle injuries, say the researchers.

They suggest that football boot and sports shoe design should be modified to take account of this.

Researcher Dr Gordon Waddington told BBC News Online: "The evolution of the human foot for upright gait would have occurred on rougher ground than the smooth shoe insoles and horizontal playing surfaces which are encountered now.

"The sole of the foot is adapted for texture, and for optimal, low-injury performance some underfoot texture would seem to be required."

The research is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.




SEE ALSO:
'Air-filled' trainer danger
26 Mar 01  |  Health
3D skeletons help treat injuries
24 Aug 02  |  Health


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