This is from a posting that I made on the Bushwalk Tasmania forum last November.
After the comment “ that boots do not stop ankle sprains any more that low top shoes do” by a Podiatrist who gave a talk about foot care at my last Canberra Bushwalking Club meeting, I have spent the last week researching the web to see what I could find out.
I typed “boots vs shoes, ankle sprains” into google search engine and came up with many articles and research papers that talked about this issue.
Many of the articles spoke about that boots are better for avoiding sprained ankles, but I felt that this was a personal view as the articles not actually have any hard data to support what they where claiming, A lot of the articles where from boot manufactures and shops. After delving deeper into google and refining my search a bit I found some research papers that have looked into High top shoes (boots) and low top shoes and there effects on ankle sprains. I could not find any research projects into boots vs shoes with respect to bushwalking but there are several studies with basketball players, American foot ball players, soccer players and one comparing army recruits wearing boots and three quarter length basketball style shoes.
I am not sure if these results from studies into ankle injuries from sport and military training can be compared to what happens while bushwalking, my opinion is that it probably does go close.
Here are some conclusions, abstracts and some selected paragraphs from some studies.
Prevention of Acute Ankle Ligament Sprains in Sport
Martin P. Schwellnus
The factor in footwear design that has most frequently investigated is the possible role of high-top shoes in reducing the risk of ankle sprains (Petrov 1988). The results from three studies indicate that, in the absence of additional taping or external support, wearing high-top shoes does not reduce the risk of ankle sprains. Indeed, in one study, the wearing of low-top shoes resulted in a lower incidence of ankle sprains compared to high-top shoes (Rovere et al. 1988). In two recently published meta-analysises, it was also concluded that the role of footwear in the prevention of ankle sprains was not clear (Quinn et al. 2000).
In summery, although a protective influence of footwear is suggested from the results of biomechanical studies, footwear without additional support from taping and bracing does not appear to have a strong influence on the risk of ankle sprain. The potential negative effect that footwear may have on the proprioceptive function of the foot requires further investigation.
Effect of High-top and low-top shoes on Ankle inversion
Mark D. Ricard, PhD; Shane S. Schuties, PhD, PT, ATC; Jose J. Saret, MS, ATC
Conclusions: The high-top shoes were more effective in reducing the amount and the rate of inversion than low top shoes. Depending on the load conditions, high-top shoes may help prevent some ankle sprains.
This is from the introduction
High-top athletic shoes are frequently to augment ankle support because they may provide increased resistance to inversion. The increase cost of these shoes may be justified if they decrease ankle injury rates. Not all studies, however, support the finding that high-top shoes may reduce the potential for injury. Currently, consensus is lacking among researchers and clinicians concerning the extent to which high-top shoes protect the ankle from inversion trauma.
1: Foot Ankle. 1991 Aug;12(1):26-30.
Risk factors for lateral ankle sprain: a prospective study among military recruits.
Milgrom C, Shlamkovitch N, Finestone A, Eldad A, Laor A, Danon YL, Lavie O, Wosk J, Simkin A.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, Israel.
In a prospective study of risk factors for lateral ankle sprain among 390 male Israeli infantry recruits, a 18% incidence of lateral ankle sprains was found in basic training. There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of lateral ankle sprains between recruits who trained in modified basketball shoes or standard lightweight infantry boots. By multivariate stepwise logistic regression a statistically significant relationship was found between body weight x height (a magnitude which is proportional to the mass moment of inertia of the body around a horizontal axis through the ankle), a previous history of ankle sprain, and the incidence of lateral ankle sprains. Recruits who were taller and heavier and thus had larger mass moments of inertia (P = 0.004), and those with a prior history of ankle sprain (P = 0.01) had higher lateral ankle sprain morbidity in basic training.
1: Sports Med. 1995 Oct;20(4):277-80.Links
The role of shoes in the prevention of ankle sprains.
Barrett J, Bilisko T.
University of Oklahoma, Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA.
Ankle sprains are a common sports injury that can cause significant, chronic disability. Studies aimed at prevention through the use of footwear have focused on the biomechanical aspects of foot and ankle anatomy, proprioceptive input of the foot/ankle complex, external stresses applied to the joint, and shoe traction. These studies support the use of high top shoes for ankle sprain prevention because of their ability to limit extreme ranges of motion, provide additional proprioceptive input and decrease external joint stress. Despite this biomechanical evidence, clinical trials are inconclusive as to the clinical benefit of high top shoes in the prevention of ankle sprains. Further study is necessary to delineate the benefits of shoe designs for ankle sprain prevention.
Some other information about ankles
If you have already sprained your ankle you are more likely to sprain your ankle again than someone that had not sprained his or her ankle before.
Athletes who have suffered a previous sprain decreased risk of injury if a brace is worn.
Gender does not appear to be a risk factor for suffering an ankle sprain.
The above abstracts, conclusions and paragraphs is only a little part of what I have read on this topic and on the evidence that I have read my conclusion is that studies have show that it is inconclusive that Boots are better than shoes for lowering the incidence of sprained ankles for sports which bushwalking can be considered part of.