Fancy footwear no protection against injury, says study

LONDON, Reuters

Basketball players are prone to ankle injuries and footwear with air cells in the heels could be doing more harm than good, Australian researchers said on Tuesday.

A study of 10,000 amateur basketball players in Australia showed that half of ankle injuries occurred during landing after a shot or rebound, and a third were due to sharp twisting and turning.

Researchers at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia found that a history of ankle injuries, lack of stretching during warm up and air cells in the heels of shoes for cushioning may increase the risk of injury.

“Players wearing shoes with air cells in the heels were 4.3 times more likely to injure an ankle than those wearing shoes without air cells,” said Gaylene McKay, of the school of physiotherapy at the university. But a spokeswoman for the sports shoe and apparel giant Nike Inc., which has been putting air bubbles in its shoes for 24 years, said this was just a hypothesis.

“There is no cause-and-effect connection. They don’t show why that is true. There are a whole ton of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with footwear that could have been the reason for that injury rate,” Cathryn Reith told Reuters in a telephone interview.

In a study reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, McKay and a team of researchers observed more than 10,000 mostly recreational basketball players in Australia. Thirty seven players were injured during the study.

Players with a previous ankle injury were 4.9 times as likely to sustain a new injury. Failing to warm up properly raised the risk 2.7 times.

“Further research is necessary to explore the hypothesis that air cells decrease rear foot stability and consequently increase the risk of ankle injury,” McKay added.