February 21 2019

Football season is almost upon us and many of you are out looking for this seasons new boots for your kids. With all the different brands, colours and superstar endorsements it makes it hard to figure out which shoes are best!

Our resident Podiatry expert, Craig Douglass, has put together this simple checklist to help you narrowing down the choices on the wall of boots at the local shoe shop. This guide will help you choose the shoes that promote the best in helping to reduce injury and keep your feet and lower limbs functioning at their best.

Over to you Craig …

Football boots in recent times have been influenced, like running shoes, to be as lightweight and colourful as possible. As is also the case with running shoes, there are a few features to look at when deciding between models before buying the lightest and flashiest shoes on the market.

Midfoot Support : The arch region off the feet (follow the arrow below!) need a supportive platform to function on. When supported well, the arch of the foot helps reduce any abnormal loads that may occur with the increasing demands of your chosen sport.  Many boots in the race to be lightest have become more flexible but this can contribute to arch and heel pain over time.

To test this feature grab the front and heel of the boot and try and bend and twist the midfoot region. There should be reasonable resistance to movement.

This is more important than the shape of the innersole which is really just a comfort layer above the harder midsole of the boot on the inside of the shoe.

Having this integrity to the shoe is especially important if your foot is more rolled in, or pronated, than a normal foot type.

Forefoot Flexibility:  While we want the midfoot to be stiff we also need flexibility at the ball of foot region (or base of your toes for those playing at home) to assist propulsion and not limit movement at the big toe joint. If the shoe is too stiff here and you cannot push off of the base of your toes properly, you run the risk of moving with a much flatter / plodding style of gait. This will place increased load on the joints in the midfoot and can contribute to issues such as stress fractures and other problems in the tissues into the lower legs with the change in running pattern. Test the shoe in the same way you did before but focus on the ball of foot region and look for easy movement.

Heel Elevation:  One of the biggest functional differences between a running shoe and a football boot is that football boots tend to be flat soled.  Running, and day-day shoes, have a heel that is raised normally about 1cm. Transitioning between the two styles places increased strain on the Achilles tendon and can be especially problematic if you have tight calf muscles. This can lead to overload of the Achilles tendon, or Sever’s disease in children where the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone. To reduce this load, firstly it is important to ensure you are doing adequate calf stretching to accommodate this difference, you can buy a boot, such as the Asics range pictured below, that all have a heel gradient that is the same as most of their running shoes. Alternatively, you can add a heel raise to the inside of a flatter style boot. This is one of the most common regions of pain and discomfort that present to podiatrists at the start of the football season.  These simple measures can be reduce pain and discomfort quickly and effectively.

Fit: As with all shoes, ensure there is adequate space in the toe box to avoid damage to the nails and toes from boots that are too tight. Wearing a football boot one size smaller does not “fit like a glove” and help you kick better, it just damages your feet! Nobody wants that!

Hopefully these few pointers can help in your next boot purchase. If you need further information please call the clinic and Craig can get you into the right shoe and sort the flamboyant from the functional!

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