Injuries Linked to Shoes

August 31, 2017

The U.S. Naval Academy's football team has found that some of the team's foot injuries last year may have been caused by the dress shoes students must wear every day. According to The Washington Post, the Midshipmen football players are not allowed to wear flip-flops or sneakers unless they are in their dorm rooms or are taking part in sports, and must wear hard-soled Oxfords.

After three consecutive losses last year, including against Army, the team discussed the source of the problem.

“We had a huge summit among the training staff, the weight room staff, equipment people,” Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “What could it be? Somebody brought that up, and I thought it was a pretty valid point. Guys are walking around in hard-soled shoes all day. I have a hard enough time wearing tennis shoes.”

Jim Berry, assistant athletic director for sports medicine, said that wearing dress shoes for 10 hours a day can lead to wear on the sole and/or heal, causing supination in the foot.

“We recognized that a lot of these kids, their foot injuries could be caused by their uniform shoes,” Berry said. “We noticed some of the kids, their heels were starting to wear, kind of like dress shoes you might have had for a few years. Your back heel is kind of worn out.”

In order to reduce foot injuries, Niumatalolo decided that if his players' shoes, which are worn for four years without being replaced, show wear, they must be cobbled. Players who are considered to be likely to suffer ankle or foot injuries have been given orthotics in their dress shoes and cleats. Other measures to reduce foot injuries include “foot activation stations” in which players do foot warmups before getting taped, and replacing cleats more often.

“It’s been a whole process,” Niumatalolo said. “All of us, myself, all of us have to learn better because people get hurt, but it can’t be because of our negligence. We’ve got to do the best we can and make sure that we look at everything, look under every stone.”

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