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Alleviating soccer players' woes.

Poorly designed shoes and inefficient training methods may cause bony abnormalities in soccer players' feet and ankles, according to a study of members of the U.S. Men's Senior National and Olympic Soccer Teams. "Players' feet and ankles are exposed to great stresses and forces during the game, but soccer shoes provide little protection, very little support, and no cushioning," indicates orthopedic surgeon Raymond Rocco Monto.

"Soccer shoe research and development lags behind that of running shoes with regard to improved function, wearer comfort, and foot protection. There is no scientific basis for locating the studs of cleats under the ball of the foot or other joints--just tradition. Soccer shoes have changed little in 30 years. Companies could put strips of titanium in the shoe uppers to minimize some of the impact that is now sustained by the foot." (The ball is kicked at speeds over 80 mph, with the kicking leg absorbing 85% of this kinetic energy.)

"Pre-adolescents should play in sneakers, flat-bottom shoes, or ones with corrugated soles," Monto advises. "Often, children are playing on less than ideal surfaces. By wearing a noncleated flat-bottom shoe, [they] will be less likely to sustain an injury. The |turf' shoe is appropriate for teams playing on dirt fields or if the ground is soft."

He also blames traditional training methods for causing bony abnormalities of the foot and ankle. "For a lot of coaches, |practice' means telling the youngsters to go out and play the game. Daily contact practice, however, may stimulate accessory bone growth in children's feet and ankles." He suggests that those under age 12 should practice for no more than one to two hours every other day and play only one game per week. "These guidelines will [help] reduce children's feet and ankle exposure to micro- and macrotrauma."
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Title Annotation:foot and ankle deformities
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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