High Top Cleats are Ruining Athletes
There is no doubt that these shoes look awesome, pretty damn awesome actually but do they actually fulfill the claims of making you a better athlete; who can run faster, jump higher and limit injury? The truth of the matter is that these super high top cleats actually do the exact opposite. They limit range of motion and that limited ankle range of motion actually decreases performance and increases the risk of injury. This is obviously the exact opposite of what the shoe company is claiming to do; this might be hard to understand and leave you wondering why the disconnect? Well the reality of the situation is that companies want to make money and these shoes make money. Now onward towards the claims I am making. The first is limited range of motion. When the shoe wraps half way up your lower let it is going to limit the range of motion you can point and flex your toe. If you wear these shoes two hours a day 4 to five days per week for five months out of the year, your ankles get locked in place even when you aren’t wearing the cleats.
Limited Range of Motion
So why is that important? Don’t we want our ankle locked in place so we can cut and plant and not roll our ankle? Well the truth is that the ankle needs range of motion to do its job and when it becomes rigid it doesn’t perform well and it is more susceptible to injury. Every joint in our body is built on either a stability roll or a mobility roll. The ankle is based on mobility.
Scapula (shoulder blade)=stable
If any one of these joints is not able to perform its function the joint below or above is at risk for injury. Kids who constantly wear these cleats or ankle bracing lose the mobility in their ankle, which could negatively affect the stability in their knee which leads to a torn ACL, which no athlete wants to deal with.
Performance is limited because the ankle can’t go through a full range of motion to do its job. Think about trying to punch a punching bag but only bringing your hand back two inches with each hit. You aren’t able to express your true power this way. Now wind up and hit is and the bag blasts across the room. When you lock your ankle in place it is like trying to hit the bag with your hand 2” away from it. This locking of the ankle teaches poor running mechanics(your ankle needs to go through a full range of motion while sprinting) and can lead to acute and chronic foot, ankle, knee, hip and low back injuries.
Increased Risk of Injury
So we know the ankle needs good mobility but when we lock the ankle in place it not only loses the mobility in that moment but overtime as well. As the ankle gets tighter and tighter it has less room to give when the ankle does roll and if it rolls just a little too much you get an ankle sprain. The other problem is that you lose strength in the ankle because it is always supported by the high top shoe or brace, which doesn’t allow the muscles to do the work. The muscles say “Hey this shoe/brace is doing all the work so lets take the day off.” Now we can’t protect the ankle and keep it stable because we have told those ankle muscles to continuously not work because we always wear a brace. Look at any athlete who is in a cast after a broken arm or ankle and look how small the muscles get from one side to the other just after a few weeks. This is what is happening when you are always wear those braces and high top shoes, just to a lesser degree.
This is probably new information to most who are reading this but hopefully it makes sense. If you have any questions about this article or would like to know more about our philosophies on training check out our weekly Q&A on our facebook page every Thursday at lunch time.