Evaluating Postural Control and Ankle Laxity Between Taping and High-Top Cleats in High School Football Players

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Lateral ankle sprains are the most common injuries in high school sports. While ankle taping is a preferred method of external prophylactic support, its restrictive properties decline during exercise. The Under Armour® Highlight cleat is marketed on the premise that it provides added support without the need for additional ankle taping. Objective: To determine if differences in ankle joint laxity and postural control exist between football players wearing the Under Armour® Highlight cleat (Under Armour Inc, Baltimore, MD) as compared to a low/mid-top cleat with ankle tape. Design: Crossover trial. Setting: Athletic training room and football practice field sideline. Patients: 32 interscholastic football players (15.8 ± 1.0 y; 178.9 ± 7.4 cm; 87.1 ± 21.4 kg). Interventions: Ankle laxity was assessed using an instrumented ankle arthrometer (Blue Bay Research Inc, Milton, FL), while postural control testing was performed on the Tekscan MobileMat™ Balanced Error Scoring System (BESS; South Boston, MA). The 2 treatments included Under Armour® Highlight cleats and a low/mid-top cleat with ankle tape applied to the nondominant ankle only. Measurements were taken before and immediately after practice. Main Outcome Measures: The independent variable was treatment (Highlight vs low/mid-top cleat with ankle tape). Dependent variables included ankle arthrometry measures of anterior displacement (mm), inversion/eversion rotation (deg), and the modified BESS error scores. A linear mixed-effects model was used for analysis. Results: The low/mid-top cleat with tape condition had significantly higher inversion range-of-motion (ROM) and inversion/eversion rotation postexercise when compared to the Highlight cleat (P < 0.05). Conclusions: The results of this study provide some evidence that the Under Armour® Highlight cleat restricts ankle ROM following a training session better than the taped low/mid-top cleat. Further study is warranted to determine if this high-top style of football cleat can reduce the incidence of ankle sprains and how it might compare to spat taping.

The authors are with the Dept of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.

Address author correspondence to Douglas A. Pizac at pizacd@udel.edu.
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