Lower-extremity injury occurs frequently in soccer. A number of studies have started to assess why specific lower-extremity injuries occur. However, at this time few studies have examined how footwear affects lower-extremity mechanics. In order to address this question, 14 male (age: 22.1 ± 3.9 years, height: 1.77 ± 0.06 m, and mass: 73.3 ± 11.5 kg) and 14 female (age: 22.8 ± 3.1 years, height: 1.68 ± 0.07 m and mass: 64.4 ± 9.2 kg) competitive soccer players underwent a motion analysis assessment while performing a jump heading task. Each subject performed the task in three different footwear conditions (running shoe, bladed cleat, and turf shoe). Two-way analyses of variance were used to examine statistical differences in landing mechanics between the footwear conditions while controlling for gender differences. These comparisons were made during two different parts (before and following) of a soccer-specific jump heading task. A statistically significant interaction for the peak dorsiflexion angle (P = 0.02) and peak knee flexion angle (P = 0.05) was observed. Male soccer players exhibited a degree increase in dorsiflexion in the bladed cleat while female soccer players exhibited a three-degree reduction in peak knee flexion in the bladed cleat condition. Other main effects for gender and footwear were also observed.
The results indicate that landing mechanics vary based upon gender, footwear, and the type of landing. Therefore, training interventions that target the reduction of lower-extremity injury should consider utilizing sport-specific footwear when assessing movement patterns.