With the AFL season up and running, and community footy about to begin, it’s time for some new footy boots. And we’re here to help you find best (and tell you about the worst) footy boots for your feet! This information is relevant for AFL, Soccer, & Rugby players and will help to keep your feet happy during the upcoming season.
- Choosing the right football boots is crucial to prevent injuries and keep your feet healthy. Many athletes prioritize visual appeal over proper fit, leading to foot problems and injuries like Morton’s Neuroma or ingrown toenails.
- Football boots often lack shock absorption and support, increasing the risk of foot, knee, and hip injuries compared to running shoes. It is essential to look for boots that provide adequate cushioning, support, and grip.
- ASICS Lethal Ultimate footy boots are recommended for AFL and rugby players due to their excellent support and shock absorption. They may appear bulkier but offer superior foot health benefits. Soccer players should look for boots with a strong heel counter, sufficient toe box width, and some shock absorption.
- In addition to proper footwear, other strategies can help maintain foot health during the footy season. Gradually increase activity levels to avoid injuries, use running shoes during preseason for better shock absorption, and take precautions to prevent conditions like athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections.
- Promptly address any foot issues like redness, itching, blisters, or fungal nail infections by seeking professional help from a podiatrist. Keeping feet dry and avoiding boots that squeeze the toes can help prevent fungal nail infections.
Why is Football Boot Selection Important?
Whilst many football boots out there look fantastic and are designed to make you stand out on the field, it can be hard to stand out if you’re stuck on the sidelines due to injury.
Many athletes tend to choose boots based on colour or visual appeal, and neglect choosing the right boot for their foot in the process.
Most football boots have a very narrow ‘tow box’, which compresses the forefoot. This often leads to injuries such as Morton’s Neuroma, or causing painful ingrown toenails. These injuries can easily put a player on the sidelines, which is why choosing the correct footy boot is so important.
Football boots often provide little to no shock absorption for your lower limbs. You can see this by comparing the sole of your footy boots to the sole of your runners. We’ll bet your runners have a lot more cushioning, support, and rubber between your foot and the ground!
This lack of support and shock absorption can lead to all sorts of foot, knee, and hip injuries.
What Should I Be Looking For in a Football Boot?
Football boots are designed to do two things, look great, and play good football. For this reason, many sacrifices in terms of support for your feet have been made in the design process.
Ideally, football boots should have the same features as a good runner, including a good heel counter, adequate width in the toe box, good fixation, good shock absorption and adequate grip.
If you look at the image below highlighting these features, it won’t take long to figure out which of them are missing. Some of these features have been left out to create a lighter boot, or to reduce bulk so that the player has a sense of ‘touch’ with the ball.
Once again, whilst gaining these small edges in competition might be great, there is no point having them if you’re having to sit on the sidelines due to injury or end up suffering in the long term from foot or lower leg problems.
The best option is to find a boot that fits somewhere in the middle, providing some support and shock absorption, whilst also providing a lightweight design and great ‘touch’ with the ball.
Okay, But What Brand of Footy Boot is Best?
If you’re an avid listener to the Dyl & Friends Podcast, you might have heard of ASICS Lethal Ultimate footy boots. These boots have been nicknamed as ‘career savers’ throughout the AFL, as older players often transition into these to ‘extend their careers’.
These boots might look a bit bulkier than the average footy boot, but they provide excellent support and shock absorption compared to most other footy boots. Matt Rowell made his mark on the AFL competition last year wearing his ASICs Lethal Ultimates as an 18 year old (picture below).
These boots are perfect for AFL and Rugby, where the level of fine touch and finesse is not needed to the same extent as in soccer.
For Soccer players out there, the ASICs Lethal Ultimates are still the best choice for your foot health. However, if you find it too difficult to play in these boots, try to find a boot that has a strong heel counter/support, enough width in the toe box so that your toes are not squishing together, and some form of shock absorption if possible.
What Else Can I Do to Help Keep My Feet Happy During the Footy Season?
Wearing the best and most supportive footy boots is not the only thing you can do to improve your foot health during footy season! Here are some other strategies that will help you to keep your feet on the footy field.
- Exercise Loading:
One of the biggest reasons we see injuries in the preseason is due to athletes ramping up their running or activity levels too quickly, which massively increases your risk of developing an injury.
As a general rule, add up how many kilometres you are running a week and try not to increase this by more than 10% from one week to the next, otherwise you are increasing your risk for developing shin splints, stress fractures, and soft tissue injuries, just to name a few.
The best way to avoid this is to get an early start on preseason, and slowly build up from there.
- Utilise Your Runners:
Use your runners when you can! Much of the preseason often involves running and minimal ball work, which means it is the perfect time to make the most of the shock absorption provided by a good runner and save those joints from injury! Preseason will often be conducted on hard ovals due to the summer heat, so boots with studs are generally not suitable anyway.
- Avoid Athelete’s Foot:
Athletes Foot, otherwise known as Tinea, didn’t end up with it’s name for no reason. Athletes sharing changerooms and showers can cause Tinea to spread like wildfire.
Your best bet is to keep your feet dry, wear thongs in the changerooms and showers, and change into fresh socks frequently.
If you find you have redness, itchiness or stinging between your toes, or blistering, book an appointment with us here at Watsonia Podiatry. We’ll be able to get your feet back on track!
- Avoid Fungal Nails:
With all forms of football running through winter, footy boots provide the perfect damp environment for fungal nail infections to fester. When this is combined with footy boots squeezing the toes and causing trauma to your nails, it’s no wonder we see lots of footy players with fungal nail infections every season.
Once again, keep your feet dry as much as possible, and avoid footy boots that compress your toes. If you see signs of fungal nail infection, including discolouration of the nail or a nail turning thick and crumbly, book an appointment with Watsonia Podiatry so that we can help you out.