With many clubs getting back to training, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a moment and make sure you have the right kit before you hit the oval. It is vital to wear good supportive football boots for any running-based change-of-direction athlete wanting to perform at their best and reduce injury risk.
And when in doubt… Ask the experts. Physiotherapist Darcy Sharples and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Lauren Campbell, from the Optimal Health Lab, share a wealth of experience working with footballers from all levels of the game. Check out their tips and advice on what to look for in football boots and how to ensure you make it through the remainder of the season – injury free!
Start from the ground up!
Firstly, it is imperative to ensure your boots fit your feet correctly. It is equally important that the boots are appropriate for your foot type and picked with consideration of your past injury history; not simply picked for the best colour coordinating with your club colours.
A correctly fitted shoe helps with reducing the incidence of foot and ankle injury, as well as ensures good comfort while playing.
A physiotherapist’s favourite is the ASICS football boots as they have great shoe architecture around the ankle and heel. The inbuilt shock absorption and 10mm heel lift help to take load off your joints, but they also reduce the load on your Achilles tendon and calf muscles (which is especially importantly if you’ve suffered from Sever’s Disease, calf tears or achilles tendinopathy in recent seasons). Lastly, an ASICS football boot also have different stud patterns appropriate for different turf and oval types to further optimise grip and control when running, kicking and changing direction.
As important as football boots are, it is integral to ensure your body is well prepared for the rigours of your sport. The Physiotherapy team at the Optimal Health Lab are keen to share these little clinical gems of knowledge to reduce your risk of needing us…
Ensuring you have been engaging in lower limb strength programming to be prepared to run at high pace, change direction suddenly and control complicated landings. The key muscle groups are your quads, hamstrings, adductors, glutes and calves.
Stability and endurance strength through your hip, lower back and pelvis (known as your lumbopelvic region for physios) are important for reducing injuries in these areas, but core strength is also great for tackling strength, keeping your feet in a tackle and controlling those complex movements involved with changing direction while kicking.
Optimising your skills and quality of movement while jumping, hopping, and landing. This aids in improving how well you run, landing quality, and kicking. Along with a good football boot these skills have been proven to reduce the incidence of lower limb injuries such as ACLs, ankle sprains and hip/groin injuries.
Ensuring good conditioning in preparation for the upcoming season is incredible importance, but realistically COVID-19 restrictions forced everyone into more isolated and solo training schedules (often in smaller spaces too). We highly recommend you gradually build back up your fitness if you didn’t continue to train (in whatever way you could) during the restrictions period.
Warm up is an underappreciated part of performing at our best. A designated time of roughly 15min is minimal to get yourself ready to perform and reduce your injury risk. A warm up should focus on and include dynamic stretching, muscle activation warm up exercises, progressive running drills and some key football skills like kicking/ handballing/ tackling. Gone are the days of only stretching to ‘warm up’.
Recovery is essential to help reduce the incidence of injury and ensure you are ready to train for football/ other sports in the days after. Following any sport you should engage in a 15-30min cool down. This ideally consists of light jogging, gentle stretching, foam-rolling and icing, and then rehydrated and refuelling.
In summary, combining appropriate footwear, strength and conditioning, a good warm up and cool down aids in reducing injuries in the lower limb to help keep you on the park for longer.
Choosing appropriate football boots and ensuring you are engaging in individualised injury prevention techniques are of the best ways to keep yourself fit and healthy when playing sport. Physiotherapists are great people to get into contact with to help with this. Get in contact with us or your local physiotherapist if you need more information specific to you.
Optimal Health Lab Director/ Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Physiotherapy/ Head Physio at Lower Plenty Football Club
You can book in to see Lauren, Darcy and team at Optimal Health Lab HERE or give them a call on 03 9431 5955.