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Ankle support & Hiking Boots

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by manmantis, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. manmantis

    manmantis Active Member


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    Hi,

    I was pondering the issues of ankle support in hiking boots today as I browsed the shelves of a local outdoor store.

    What prompted this was a discussion with a member of the lightweight walking fraternity I met while walking the Overland track here in Tasmania. He was wearing sneakers & getting quite a bit of behind-his-back abuse from what you might call "traditionalists". I seemed to spend quite a lot of time defending his choice of footwear.

    I seem to recall reading or hearing somewhere that the effectiveness of hiking boots in providing ankle stability was overstated. However, I can't for the life of me find any mention of this as much as I search (which could mean of course that no such study exists).

    Can someone please enlighten me? How much ankle support would a boot really provide? What studies are there on hiking boot design (or even work boot design come to that)?

    Cheers

    Julian
     
  2. this may help not hiking but basketball.

     
  3. manmantis

    manmantis Active Member

    Thanks Mike.

    Looking at the abstracts from those 2 studies & some of their references it looks like opinion leans more towards shoe height having little to no effect. I find the design of the 2000 study a little odd I have to say, and that's the only one which points in the opposite direction.

    I'm digging in the recesses of my mind to recall that high-top boots give a perception of support and possibly some proprioceptive stimulus, but offer no significant reduction in ankle inversion. Don't know where I'm remembering this from though.

    Anything on boots around? Traditional Hiking boots tend to be a bit higher and firmer than your average high-top basketball shoe.

    Cheers.
     
  4. Nellermoe

    Nellermoe Member

    What sort of testing criteria would I want to set up to servey the local Mountaineers club to gather information to help with this research on hiking boots?
     
  5. Tedd

    Tedd Welcome New Poster

    Trying to help,

    There really is no right or wrong with the choice of footwear people use, its what suits you ability and the terrain.
    I have hiked here in Australia the UK and Europe and I have done so in all types of shoes, from Full Grain Leather High Boots, Low Hiking Shoes, Trainers and ever Vibram Five Fingers.
    With 15 years experience in the Outdoors Industry from Guiding to Retail in England and Australia you need to stop reading and start trying the different styles of hiking shoes on, no matter what you read or people tell you you will never get anywhere until you try boot and trail shoes on.
    My guide and its only a guide, if your hiking with a heavy pack of 12kg or more use boots, your feet, ankles and knees are not used to the extra weight that you are carrying, so ankle support is a good idea, if you are carrying 5kg to 12kg use a mid cut hiking boot, less weight less support, and for anything 5kg or less and trail shoe, trainers or sandals will suit.
    However this will depend greatly on you and your foot and leg strength an the surface of the terrain you are hiking, rugged terrain you may need ankle support from a boot and flat trails you may get away with a shoe or sandals.
    Hope this helps...

    Footwear Support
     
  6. manmantis

    manmantis Active Member

    Thanks, although I should should point out that I was browsing the shelves more to see what they were stocking rather than to buy.

    I don't wear my high-top leather Scarpa boots at all these days and do all my bushwalking in low-cut shoe/boots no matter what I'm packing.

    I'm interested to know what actual ankle support high-top boots provide. I have this recollection of reading a paper that stated that they give a perception of support (because they cover the ankle) without actually limiting ankle ev/inversion.

    Be nice to find the paper in question (unless of course I dreamed it up).
     
  7. efuller

    efuller MVP

    The difficulty comes when you want to try and quantify support. First you have to define it. The paper you seek may not even have a definition. Support could mean you get fewer sprained ankles or it could mean that it provides a pronation or a supination moment. One definition of support is that it will tend to keep your foot relatively vertical at heel contact when you are fatigued. (if you hit more inverted you will be more likely to sprain your ankle.) However, that definition would be very hard to measure.

    There are different contributing factors to ankle sprains and a shoe that "treats" one of those factors may be bad for the other factors. For example increased peroneal reaction time is one postulated cause of sprained ankles. A laterally positioned STJ axis is another possible cause of increased liklihood of sprained ankles. A shoe that addresses one cause could make the other worse (more likely to sprain).

    Eric
     
  8. pingpod

    pingpod Welcome New Poster

    A similar question was asked here:

    This question has interested me too. The semantics of the term "support" being somewhat unclear in terms of what difference good or bad support would mean when hiking, I prefer to think in terms of ankle sprain risk reduction and from and what I've read, the scientific evidence seems at odds with popular belief that high-tops provide better protection against ankle sprains.

    Personally, I do not believe that opinions, anecdotal evidence, theoretical explanations or even laboratory tests are satisfactory when assessing the effectiveness of high-tops for sprain prevention when hiking (the popular belief looking increasingly like a myth demonstrates that). Field tests with a suitably large sample over varied terrain would seem the only way to fully answer the question but I haven't come across such a test so far (perhaps the US army recruits test comes closest, ref in link above).
     
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