Monday, May 01, 2006

Nike - It's not the boots that break the bones

Much is being made today about the new boots Wayne Rooney was wearing on Saturday when he suffered a broken metatarsal in Man United's defeat at Chelsea.

Metatarsal injuries where once a rarity, but have recently become very common place (Nick Webster points out that David Beckham, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy and Scott Parke have all suffered this injury in the last few years). It could be that players use to play through such injuries or that they were diagnosed as something else, but more then a few people thing the real blame lies with the shoes.

New technology means manufactures can now produce extremely lightweight boots that allow players to better feel the ball. However, less material around the foot also means less cushioning. Could this lack of padding be the reason so many feet are getting hurt? Nike says no.

'Nothing occurred in any of our tests to indicate the player would be at any risk,' said the boot's developer Cedric Collet. 'The boot was specifically designed for Wayne and has incorporated three different types of protection for his foot.'

He added, 'In some ways, I think these injuries are more linked to the speed the game is played at now.'

That might be the case. Until someone takes the time to connect injuries with the amount of padding in the shoes, no one will be able to say for sure (and even then, some folks won't believe it).

For their part, Manchester United also does not think the boots were the reason for the injury.

One interesting thing, Nike makes it clear that when David Beckham, Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard were injured, they were not wearing Nike product.

Whatever the cause, it will be interesting to see if players start choosing 'fatter' boots.


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