Boots could be the cause of increased injuries
Competition has become so intense in the beautiful game that there is no room for mediocrity at the top level today.
Teams across the planet train vigorously and employ technology extensively to iron out chinks in the armour. Modern day football is all about speed, skill, extra-sensory perception between players, tactical prowess and tremendous athleticism.
With the game immensely physical and speed being one of the prime assets for a player, footballers are prone to injuries at an alarming rate; an injury to the knee or ankle, for instance, has the potential to sideline a player for prolonged periods irrespective of advancements in the field of medicine.
Apart from the physical rigours of the game, we tend to overlook one aspect that tends to augment injury – footballers’ boots.
Complying with this quest for speed, manufacturers make boots that are supremely light in weight to enhance mobility, ball-control and aerodynamics. Moreover, traditional metal studs have given way to plastic studs and customized boots are also available for strikers and defenders separately.
However, this hankering for flimsiness in boots can result in ligament damage to the knee or ankle.
According to sports injury expert Professor David Barrett, modern-day boots fail to offer solid foundation and support when the going gets tough on the pitch.
He says, “Surgeons are seeing a lot more metatarsal injuries in players and that is because of lightweight boots. When they kick through, the lighter the foot is, the easier it is to move it. But the players have no protection. Put simply, lightweight boots equals metatarsal fractures.”
In the wake of Wayne Rooney’s near-fatal injury caused by Fulham’s Rodallega’s studs in the premier league in August 2012, Professional Footballers’ Association chief Gordon Taylor, is leading further investigation into footwear used but agrees that until radical changes are made, serious injuries to footballers will remain a threat as they continue to search for ways to enhance performance.
As the debate rages on in regards to lack of protection by modern footwear and the ramification of injuries, leading manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas are showing no signs of slowing down in pursuit of creating the lightest football boot imaginable.
Keeping boots out of the equation for a moment, I wonder how much sway modern pitches have on injuries suffered by players.
While grass is the traditional surface for football grounds, due to inclement weather it’s nearly impossible to maintain natural grass throughout the year. Moreover, modern stadiums have a roof under which grass pitches cannot thrive. Contemporary artificial surfaces which are the norm today use rubber fragments as opposed to sand infill used previously.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, playing on artificial turf does draw a parallel with an increased risk of injury such as causing damage to the tendon/ankle and also abrasion.
The extent of injury to players can be controlled if manufacturers can offer to make boots with more protection keeping the safety of players in mind, but in this age of glamour and sophistication, that’s nothing but wishful thinking.