Share this article on:

Footwear Traction and Lower Extremity Noncontact Injury


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 11 - p 2137–2143
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318299ac56
Applied Sciences

Purpose: Football is the most popular high school sport; however, it has the highest rate of injury. Speculation has been prevalent that foot fixation due to high footwear traction contributes to injury risk. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine whether a relationship exists between the athlete’s specific footwear traction (measured with their own shoes on the field of play) and lower extremity noncontact injury in high school football.

Methods: For 3 yr, 555 high school football athletes had their footwear traction measured on the actual field of play at the start of the season, and any injury the athletes suffered during a game was recorded. Lower extremity noncontact injury rates, grouped based on the athlete’s specific footwear traction (both translational and rotational), were compared.

Results: For translational traction, injury rate reached a peak of 23.3 injuries/1000 game exposures within the midrange of translational traction, before decreasing to 5.0 injuries/1000 game exposures in the high range of traction. For rotational traction, there was a steady increase in injury rate as footwear traction increased, starting at 4.2 injuries/1000 game exposures at low traction and reaching 19.2 injuries/1000 game exposures at high traction.

Conclusions: A relationship exists between footwear traction and noncontact lower extremity injury, with increases in rotational traction leading to a greater injury rate and increases in translational traction leading to a decrease in injury. It is recommended that athletes consider selecting footwear with the lowest rotational traction values for which no detriment in performance results.

Human Performance Lab, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

Address for correspondence: John W. Wannop, Ph.D., Human Performance Lab, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2013.

Accepted for publication April 2013.

© 2013 American College of Sports Medicine