Australian Rules Football is surprisingly tough on the feet.
A midfield amateur footballer can run up to 15km during a match. Add onto that approximately 4 hours of training per week. And maybe they are a tradesman or retail assistant and are on their feet all day too.
Common lower limb injuries in football include:
- Knee: ACL tear/rupture, meniscus tears, patellofemoral pain syndrome, tendinopathy
- Ankle: sprains, achilles tendinopathy
- Hip: labral tear, FAI, tendinopathy, bursitis
- Muscle contusions, strains or tears
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
- Plantar fasciitis
- Osteitis pubis
and some of these injuries can be predisposed or contributed to by the footwear a footballer wears.
Sometimes the shoe is too rigid and the normal biomechanics of the foot are restricted, or alternatively the shoe is too loose and there is little support for the ankle and foot.
Tips for AFL Boots
1. Wear in your footy boots!!
Don’t train all pre-season in your runners, then chuck on your new footy boots for the first game. Your foot needs time to adjust to the boot before you wear them in competition. As pre-season is mostly fitness drills, runners may be more appropriate. But give yourself at least a month to wear in new boots. Alternate runners and boots every second training session if you need to.
2. Find a style and fit that is right for you
There are many brands of AFL boots (Asics, Adidas, Puma, New Balance, Nike), and each of them have subtle changes in cushioning, ankle height, rigidity and width. Go to the shops and try on many different pairs. If they aren’t comfortable in the store, they aren’t going to get better when you are running 15km on game day. Don’t just pick the pair that are electric green because you like the colour.
3. Remember that many footy boots cannot accommodate a foot orthotic. Either choose a shoe that you can fit your foot, at least one sock and an orthotic. Or opt for a boot which provides enough rigidity in the area your orthotic supports.
If you are still struggling to decide on the right pair of footy boots, go and see a podiatrist. Footwear is their game.