Background While ankle taping is a preferred method of external prophylactic support, its mechanical efficiency significantly declines during exercise. The Under Armour® Highlight cleat is marketed on the premise that it is lightweight and wraps your foot and ankle in a “second skin” for added support without the need for additional ankle taping.
Objective To determine if differences in ankle joint laxity and postural control exist between football players wearing the Under Armour® Highlight cleat as compared to a low or mid-top cleat with ankle tape.
Design A crossover study.
Setting Athletic training room and football practice field sideline.
Participants Twenty-one male intercollegiate football players (age = 19.6 ± 0.9 years, height = 187.4 ± 6.7 cm, body mass 98.9 ± 13.3 kg). All participants were free from any lower extremity injuries at the time of the study.
Interventions Ankle laxity was assessed using an instrumented ankle arthrometer (Blue Bay Research Inc., Milton, FL), while balance testing was performed on the Tekscan MobileMat™ BESS (Tekscan, South Boston, MA). The two treatments included Under Armour® Highlight cleats (session 1); while in the other session (session 2) participants wore an Under Armour® low/mid-cut cleat with ankle tape on the non-dominant ankle only.
Main outcome measurements The independent variable was cleat type (Highlight vs low/mid with ankle tape). Dependent variables included anterior displacement (mm), inversion/eversion rotation (deg), and single-leg and tandem stance BESS error scores. Double-leg firm and foam surface stances were not analysed.
Results A linear mixed-effects regression model was used for analysis. The mid/low-cut cleat with tape condition had significantly higher inversion/eversion rotation post-exercise when compared to the Highlight cleat (b = 4.05, df = 22.12, t = 3.866, p = 0.001). No other significant differences were derived with the other dependent variables.
Conclusions The results of this study provide some evidence that the Under Armour® Highlight cleat restricts inversion/eversion rotation following a training session better than the taped low/mid-cut cleat. Further study is warranted to determine if this high-top style of football cleat can reduce the incidence of ankle sprains and how it might compare to spat taping.