Soccer Cleats Designed to Prevent Ankle Injuries
Newer soccer cleats have now integrated a sock that covers the ankle, allowing the shoe to fit more organically onto the foot. However, the sock does not protect the ankle in any way, neither from impact or over extension. Thus, I noticed there is room for improvement in the way cleats can protect soccer players.
The main objective of this product is to use the built-in sock to its advantage with the purpose to prevent ankle injuries in soccer by limiting the extension of the ankle-sock while still allowing the athlete to have full rotation in the ankle.
The web pattern (in orange) is a resemblance of the way an ankle is wrapped with tape to give it more stability. While taping the ankle increases stability, tape also limits rotation. However, this pattern was carefully designed to allow rotation through the spacing and webbing of the built-in brace to pull on itself when the ankle reaches a point in which it can over-extend.
research, ideation, inspiration, refinement
injury statistics and interviews
Ankle injuries are the biggest cause of young athlete’s trips to the emergency room and the most common soccer injury. In soccer, 50–80% of all injuries affect the legs and feet with 40–45% being ankle injuries. My next step was to interview a variety of elite athletes with the majority being soccer players ranging from recreational all the way up to the professional level to find out about their ankle injury experience.
Sprained ankle from awkward landing with a seven week recovery period. He stated that he “hates wearing ankle braces” because the movement doesn’t feel natural. After asking if he would like to have cleats that prevent injuries he replied saying “if there were cleats that could prevent ankle injuries I’d pay anything.”
Sprained his ankle by landing on opponent’s foot while wearing a brace. Rem’s recovery period was seven weeks long stating that ankle braces “make his feet feel heavier and hard to fully rotate” which affects his play. He said he wished the “shoes would do the job” to reduce the amount of gear needed to play basketball.
Broken ankle with a recovery period of three months involving physical training while wearing an ankle brace. While recovering, Alex felt that the ankle brace was “more annoying than helpful.” When asked why he thought the brace wasn’t helpful he stated “ankle braces are too bulky and make it difficult to run comfortably.”
Why are athletes avoiding ankle protection?
Current ankle braces are either too uncomfortable, limiting, or not helpful enough. This results in athletes pre-maturely training without proper protection or avoiding ankle braces completely, making them more vulnerable to injury and re-injury.
initial sketch direction
The beginning of the conceptual process to find ways to protect the ankle in training and matches.
material and form exploration
"If there were cleats that could prevent ankle injuries I would pay anything"
-Interviewee James Moberg.
At first, I was leaning toward the making of an enhanced ankle brace, but after asking my interviewees if they would like a shoe with a built in protection system, I received too many positive answers and asked myself, why not design the whole shoe?
FINAL DIRECTION SKETCHES & PROTOTYPING
My final steps consisted of making prototypes and testing them out on rotation and tension to then finalize the web pattern that would work best aesthetically and functionally, giving the user an alternative way to play soccer comfortably and safely.
solo capstone, spring 2016
Special thanks to Kyu Han, Jason Germay, James Moberg, Steven Wright, Alex Voin, Rem Bakamus, and Freedom Berhe for their help and contribution to the making of Equidium soccer cleats.