There’s a definite theme running through many of the football boots that have been launched ahead of the World Cup – Speed.
The biggest football boot brands in the World have literally bent over backwards to develop boots that feel light on the feet of the players wearing them, Lightweight football boots such as the Nike Elite Series and adidas f50 adiZero have come under attack today in the press, as Professor David Barrett of the University of Southampton has showcased his opinion on the subject of modern football boots.
“Surgeons are seeing a lot more metatarsal injuries in patients, of the kind England stars David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have suffered in the past – and that is because of lightweight football boots. Their introduction came about because professional footballers, particularly strikers, wanted boots as lightweight as possible for foot speed.”
Now, I’m sure you all scoffed as much as I did reading this statement – as the good professor should know that both Wayne Rooney and David Beckham wear boots designed for power, and aren’t part of the lightweight ranges!
However, Professor Barrett goes on to say that, “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 injuries.”
“Local league players should avoid the lightweight football boots because usually they are working men and having to deal with a broken foot is the last thing they need in life. We don’t all drive Ferraris, we drive cars we know will start in the morning, get us to work and be cheaper to run.”
Which is an interesting series of statements, as Prof. Barrett seems to endorse the ease of movement of the foot, which is understandable – if your foot were locked in place inside a football boot, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that trying to play a game which involves very complex and strenuous movements of the foot, would cause a completely different set of problems to a metatarsal injury – but condemns the lack of protection.
Obviously, if you’re wearing a football boot with a single layer above the bones in your feet, such as the Puma v1.08 or the adidas f50 adiZero – if someone goes studs-in on you’re less protected than if you were wearing the Concave PT+, but what about boots like the adidas Predator_X or the Nike CTR360 Maestri?
Whilst not paper thin speed boots, it something like the SG studs on the Mercurial Vapor VI come flying into you, you’re still going to feel it!
Backing this up further, we looked back at a few players who had scrapes with the dreaded metatarsal injury in World Cup years – and closer inspection makes for some pretty interesting reading:
Danny Murphy – adidas Predator (Mania)
David Beckham – adidas Predator (Mania)
Gary Neville – adidas Predator (Mania)
Steven Gerrard – adidas Predator (Pulse)
Scott Parker – Joma Imperial
Michael Owen – Umbro X-Boot
Wayne Rooney – Nike Total 90 Laser
Ashley Cole – Nike CTR360 Maestri
So looking down this list – we can see that from this small (yet related) group of top-flight players, none of them were wearing what we would class as speed boots – all of them are either great all around boots: such as the Joma, X-Boot or Nike CTR360, or are power football boots with little to no focus on weight: see the Predator and Total 90 Laser.
In fact, many medical journals recognise that there are 3 common causes for a metatarsal injury: direct trauma, overuse and excessive rotation – with direct trauma being the least common of these causes.
A 2007 study by Dr. Robin M. Queen et al at Duke University, performed a series of tests with stress and pressure monitoring equipment in the shoes of the Duke University basketball team.
They concluded that maximum amounts of pressure were exerted on the players foot-bones during tasks that involved fast changes of direction and landing from jumping, with tasks such as shuttle runs and cross-body movements also causing notable (but not maximum) increases in pressure on the metatarsal. Many of these movements will sound familiar, as we do all of this on the pitch all the time; either at training or in a match!
Whilst it would be foolish to try and argue that all football boots are the same when it comes to foot protection – what this goes to show is that no matter what football boots you are wearing, if you’re pushing yourself to your limits on the pitch you are at risk of a metatarsal stress fracture.
So, be sensible out there – whether you’re in Mercurial Vapor Superfly II‘s or Adidas Copa Mundial‘s, warm up properly, stay well hydrated, wear the right sole football boots for the job, try out anything new on the training pitch where you’re under less stress, and stay loose during half time: many physios note that most of the injuries they treat are sustained after half time, when players have accidentally let themselves cool off in the break!