Monday, May 5, 2003

Nonergonomic! Footwear Use Responsible for Ankle Injury

Nonergonomic! Footwear Use Responsible for Ankle Injury
[人因工程 ]

Footwear Use Responsible for Ankle Injury

Ankle sprains are common sports injuries. Inadequate awareness is thought to be the fundamental cause of these injuries. Ankle taping may decrease the risk of injury through improving foot postition awareness.

While taping improves foot position sense when humans wear athletic footwear, it remains poor compared to the barefoot condition if we use barefoot pre-exercise data available from a previous report for comparison. Absolute foot position error was 4.11%, 3.13%, and 1.96% for athletic footwear, athletic footwear taped, and barefoot, respectively. Therefore when compared to the barefoot condition, foot position awareness was 107.5% worse in uptaped subjects with athletic footwear, and 58.1% worse in ankle taped subjects wearing athletic footwear.

The inescapable conclusion is that footwear use is ultimately responsible for ankle injury. The conclusion is consistent with observations made among populations where barefoot activity is the norm. Ankle sprains are uncommon in these groups.

From another perspective it suggests that most ankle injuries are not inherent to sport, but rather are caused by footwear. (emphasis added)

Editor's Comments:

The conclusion that "most ankle injuries are not inherent to sport, but rather are caused by footwear" is a devastating indictment of "ergonomic" designers and their handiwork. Designers specializing in footwear should consider such findings a sobering wake up call, and undertake a humble reevaluation of their fundamental premises.

Such findings are not fundamentally hostile to the footwear industry per se, merely certain products promoted as "ergonomic" by certain footwear manufacturers. I have made this point in the past, but feel compelled to stress it again.

Product lines routinely undergo complete replacement, if not for "ergonomic" reasons, then for purely stylistic reasons. Unsafe footwear designs can be phased out as sound designs based on genuine ergonomics are phased in. Footwear manufacturers can surely profit just as much, if not more, from genuinely ergonomic products as from pseudo-ergonomic products.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Ankle Taping Improves Proprioception before and after Exercise in Young Men
Author(s): Steven Robbins, Edward Waked, and Ron Rappel
Affiliation: "Ankle taping improves proprioception before and after exercise in young men," British Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(4), 1995, pp. 242-247.
Publication Date: May 29, 1996
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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