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Stable vs Unstable Shoes

2 Days After Injury A

2 Days After Injury A

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2 Days After Injury B

Published: 23 May 2008 - 19:51 by Adz

Updated: 07 Jul 2008 - 12:30

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Okies, so here's a good question for people....... which shoes do you use and how "laterally stable" are they? E.g. How likely are they to cause you to roll your ankle.


I first dislocated my ankle about 5 years ago and it was a pretty serious injury. Trying to pivot around my opponent, who hadn't cleared quick enough, fell one way when my foot rolled the other. The result was a large, painful floppy mess at the end of my leg where my ankle had dislocated (the knobbly bit on the outside of the ankle touched the floor whilst my leg was upright - if that helps anyone with a mental picture?).

I quickly got to my feet and gravity seemed to do the work as my ankle literally "cracked" back into place. It was loud enough for my opponent to hear (stood about 1.5m behind me).

So why do I write this post now? Guess what I did AGAIN earlier this week? Trying to move sideways I kind of got my splitstep wrong and once again my foot went one way while I went the other. This time the injury wasn't anywhere near as bad, but the bones did crunch a bit, and the swelling on the ankle was visable in about 30seconds. The only saving grace was that this time it looked like someone had stuck half a racketball down my sock whilst last time it looked more like half a grapefruit! So I knew that this wasn't as serious as the first time but it still hurt like hell!!

That night I couldn't sleep, and despite icing the injury and the compressing it with a bandage and keeping it elevated, the pain was very bad. At this point the swelling hadn't gone down much, it had simply spread to cover most of the top of my foot and halfway up my calf!


So, injury aside, my aim is to help myself and hopefully others in this situation in the future.


Step 1: Recovery - Will be keeping a 2 (maybe 3!) week journal on the injury, and will post in another thread

Step 2: Strengthening - What exercises I'll be looking at to help with building strength back into the weakened ankle - last time it took me about 2 years before I was happy enough with the conditioning

Step 3: Equipment - Is there anything in the choice of footwear or supports that can act as a preventing measure in the future?


So as this post is in the equipment section.........

Step 3: Part A - SHOES


Prior to the injury I was rotating 4 pairs of squash shoes covering 2 brands and 3 models:

1) Hi-Tec 4sys

2) Hi-Tec Vortex CC

3) Asics Sensei (2 pairs)

It's a long story about how I ended up with 4 pairs of shoes, and no I didn't buy them all in some sort of fanatic spending spree. 2 were replacements (the senseis), 1 was bought (vortex) and 1 was a free gift (4sys).

So in terms of what I have at home, the vortex are by far the most laterally stable shoe. The top-foot support (where the laces are) is sturdy and quite inflexible, and the heel section is quite "box-like" with sharper corners where the side meets the sole. This makes the shoe quite "clumpy" (I apologise if any of my descriptions don't mean much to our oversees readers - just imagine playing with a rectangular block of wood attached to your feet). This makes the shoe quite difficult to roll over and provides a very stable base.

The difficulty comes with what this does to the flexibility in the upper section of the shoe. It becomes difficult to flex your feet in lunge positions and movement can be slowed or hindered by the lack of flexibilty.


By contrast, the sensei shoes are more rounded on the heel sections and much more flexible in the paddle section of the foot (the widest part). They are very easy to move quickly in, and the rounded heel gives much more mobility when needing to turn quickly and move to the ball.

However! When moving to the ball in a turning motion, the rounded heel may provide more speed, but it does not provide as much lateral stability. I find it much more likely that I will turn my ankle in this type of design of shoe. They are almost the opposite ends of the spectrum to the earlier mentioned Vortex shoes.


So finally I have the 4sys shoes. Once again these have a more rectangular feel to the heel section, and the paddle section of the shoe feel quite wide and less likely to roll. However, the upper of the shoe is much softer than the Vortex and the shoe becomes more manouverable. This would probably explain why many of the tope players on the pro circuit are using this model shoe as it does tend to balance the flexibility aspect with the lateral supprt.


So where's the problem? I don't like them. Sometimes you can have the best of the best and it just doesn't feel right. I have this problem with these shoes. They just don't feel right. I don't feel confident that will provide the stability of the vortex and I certainly don't get the flexibility given by the sensei shoes. By being the best of both worlds this model seems to have become the worst of both by default.


So now I'm asking anyone out there what other shoes they have or have tried that fit my two main criteria:

1) Stable and unlikely to roll my ankle

2) Flexible in the front/upper section to allow for greater feel and manouverability.

Perhaps these two things don't exist in one shoe as they are (I guess) opposite requirements of different playing styles.


Over to you guys on this one..........





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From dpiedra - 07 Jul 2008 - 12:30   -   Updated: 07 Jul 2008 - 12:30

Ouch ... had that happen to me years ago when I played basketball ... I'm 6' 4" and it is a long way down .... I've had some rollover, but nothing as serious as you did ... when I do, I usually wear a tight wrap or ankle brace for up to 2-3 months - in your case maybe more, perhaps on an ongoing basis as it would provide you with additional support regardless of which shoes you are using. For the record I have used Prince, Head, nd currently am using Adidas shoes ... not sure one is better at latteral support from the other.


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From Adz - 17 Jun 2008 - 18:04   -   Updated: 17 Jun 2008 - 18:06

Well, I have to say that the 4-sys shoes aren't bad, and as a starter I am playing with them over any of the others mentioned originally (when I say playing it's more like "played" - once! and slowly!!).

I'm still going to give the Prince MV4s a go as I've heard some good things about them from people who I know use them. So far it seems that people are always promoting the MV4s, Sensei's or 4-sys'. Given that I've used two of the three, I figured I'd give the last pair a shot and see where I get to!


Jimbob / Rita, I completely know where you're coming from with the court shoe vs outdoor shoe rule, and I personally think that people caught wearing outdoor shoes on court should be banned from the courts, but just to play devil's advocate....... if the courts were properly looked after (swept and mopped regularly) then there would be far less problems. In an ideal world, courts should be swept twice daily (morning and late afternoon), damp-mopped 2-3 times a week and sanded at least once a year. Then I guess changing the floor-boards every 5 years would do it.


Unfortunately, extra grip on the floor can lead to your feet not gliding as well and thus more ankle turns (but less slippage injurys).


I have to say I do like playing on a court with plenty of grip!!



p.s. The recovery is going well, but still getting a twinge of pain when climbing stairs or stringing racquets of all things (I kneel with my feet tucked under me as my machine is on the floor until I can be bothered to buy a desk toput it on!!). More work needed, but I feel comfortable to take a few coaching sessions at the moment!

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From rippa rit - 17 Jun 2008 - 08:05   -   Updated: 17 Jun 2008 - 08:07

Jimbob - a good point about the prevention of dust and fine dirt being scattered about the court carried in on  shoes that are used for jogging, walking,  gardening, etc..  

Squash players, for their own safety, should always keep their footwear for squash only, and change before going on court.  After a school class has visited courts with shoes that have been used for all purposes, eg cross country, football, etc., the courts need a damn mop over for safety sake. Little stones can get lodged in the tread also.

If your courts are slippery, sweep, and a damp mop over,  will make all the difference to the gripping.

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From jimbob1965 - 16 Jun 2008 - 09:43

I agree with weiran - the 4:SYS are a brilliant shoe.  I have wide feet and these are the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn.  I also tie them as tight as possible and as a result feel that they provide a good level of stability without sacrificing too much in the way of manoeuvrability. 

They also grip the court surface really well, which is important as the floors of the courts where I play can sometimes be a bit slippy, particularly if someone has been on there with outdoor footwear bringing in dust and debris, which happens all too often!  Quite a few players also travel to and from the court in their court shoes, which kind of defeats the object of the 'no outdoor footwear' rule.  I always keep my court shoes for on the court only.  I think more injuries would be prevented if more players observed this simple common sense rule!



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From weiran - 16 Jun 2008 - 06:21

Adz: that really looks nasty, hopefully its not too bad and you'll be back playing soon though.

I know what you mean by 4SYS trying to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. When I first got them I felt unconfident in their stability and movement even though a quick comparison in the shop against the Vortex and Adidas Stabil showed that they were infact, better overall (the Adidas seemed more stable but far less flexible). On the court they felt heavy and unstable, and I almost went back to my old shoes at one point but I perservered.

After three months of hard use (a match or training almost everyday) I've now come to really like them. They seem to have moulded to my feet better, and provide much better stability now. As they're now really bedded in, I can tie them much tighter without upsetting their comfort which seems to help stability even more.

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From rippa rit - 15 Jun 2008 - 10:11

Adz - How are you going?.

Here is an Ankle article which might be of interest to you at this stage of your rehab

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From Adz - 05 Jun 2008 - 17:37

Well I'm just waiting for my nice new Prince MV4s to arrive and I'll see just how good they realy are! Have been recommended them by loads of people for the stability, and have never before been a big fan of the Prince shoes (they tend to literally fall apart on me after a month!). Let's hope that these new ones have a bit more durability and stability than the others.


One thing I would say....... barefoot is a good way to train up strength, but you can't do any serious movement drills due to blisters and friction on your bare skin. But I will give it a go to help strengthen the ankles.






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From mike - 05 Jun 2008 - 10:16

"Go barefoot and do change of direction drills to build your muscles."

It's funny you say that rskting. For some reason I found myself practicing backhand drives barefoot a few months ago and just rocking back, then transferring my body weight through the ball gave the muscles above my left ankle bone quite a work out. They were sore (in the good way) for a couple of days.


I have also heard the school of thought that says we can become too dependant on shoes, particularly runners. The shoes do such a good job of cushioning and removing sensation that people (again runners in particular) can become sloppy and harsh in their movement which puts more impact on joints. Barefoot running can supposedely force you to use a better technique and not stomp your feet.

There may be something in that theory for smooth movement on a squash court too.

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From rskting - 05 Jun 2008 - 08:51

I tried basketball shoes and because they limit the range of motion, causes you to fall over. No basketball shoes or any shoe can  hold your bodyweight once you tip to the side anyways.

Go barefoot and do change of direction drills to build your muscles. Low-cut is the only way to go wtih shoes, otherwise they just help tip you over. lower profile is also best, high profile shoes tip you over also

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From raystrach - 24 May 2008 - 21:24   -   Updated: 24 May 2008 - 21:35

man, that does look nasty, but thanks for the pics anyway.

i saw something just the other day which said that shoes are the least likely predictor of ankle injuries. Whilst i could not find the article in question, a search brought a number of results which indicated the same thing.

Check out this article about proprioceptive training. It gives a good run down on the whole issue and even mentions a number of research papers that i came across in my search. Looks like we will all be going out to buy ankle discs/wobble boards

I hope you make a quick recovery!

ps. if they don't feel right, get rid of them. i had a pair of expensive mizunos which never quite felt right. about the same time, i started to trip on my own feet and got very sore knees. i never occurred to me that it was the shoes. then one day it struck me - try changing shoes. i bought a pair of puma indoor court shoes (reasonable but pretty cheap) within 5 minutes i started to trip over my own feet less. within a few days my knees started to feel better. I have not had any real problems since, except i have a click in my right knee which i have not been able to get rid of.

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From Adz - 24 May 2008 - 17:13

Bosartek, I was wearing the Sensei's when this injury occured, but I can't remember which shoes I had when I first did the injury.  I think that this time the shoes did add a bit towards the injury, but at teh same time I would have taken a twist in any shoe, it's only the fact that the heel was rounded that caused the severity of the injury.


Rita, "big man" is a very polite description! For those who don't know, I'm around 16stone and 6ft with a pretty wide frame (48inch chest). However, for anyone who has seen me play, they'll know that I move around very quickly and tend to stretch/lunge a lot when reaching for the ball. It's this stetching and lunging which adds to my problems with shoes. Having something flexible in the upper allows more upper ankle movement forwards and backwards, but at the same time I need a sole that is stable enough to prevent rolling sideways. A basketball shoe certainly helps with the sideways issue, but it also prevents a large amount of forwards and backwards movement. I'm thinking that this might not be the best way to go as I don't want to lose any of my reach. Also have you felt the weight of basketball shoes vs squash shoes? They're like wearing lead weights on your feet!!


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From bosartek - 24 May 2008 - 10:30


Just curious, which shoes were you wearing when the injury occurred (both the original injury and the most recent one)? Do you think the shoes in any way precipitated the injury or was it unavoidable given your body positioning/movement at the time?

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From rippa rit - 24 May 2008 - 08:24   -   Updated: 24 May 2008 - 08:33

Adz - One minute I think about the injury, but at the same time I keep thinking about the support from the shoes.  You are a big man, yes?  And from what I have reflected the support from the uppers is vital.  It is always nice to feel the support under-foot, however, I think the priority is for a strong, stable upper, short of moving into an ankle support shoe like used by some basketballers (big tall guys) who have had ankle problems . See the idea with the Nike Dunk High.


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From aprice1985 - 24 May 2008 - 02:26

All i would add is that if there is tearing of the ligaments, (probably the anterior talofibular) you may need a good few weeks of soild rest!  With the amount of bruising and the mount of pain i would think there may be a small amount of tearing.  If you are having problems moving the ankle or putting weight on it i would head for A E for an xray and possible an ultrasound scan.  For future it is good that you have a brace for the ankle, if this is your second time you may need to wear it for all squash.  For future injuries remember rest ice compression elevation and early rehabilitation (light movement/streching, not running etc).  Keep icing for a couple of days after the injury.

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From Adz - 23 May 2008 - 20:37   -   Updated: 23 May 2008 - 20:38

Yeah, I know. This time it wasn't as bad as the first, but I still felt the bones crunch in the ankle which gave me a bit of a worry. Never broken a bone in my life (to my knowledge!), so I don't think this time is any different. I probably just tore part of the outer ligaments (or are they tendons?), accounting for the blood under the surface. Certainly wasn't totally torn as I still have mobility in every direction of my ankle (but it still hurts like hell!!).

I'm aiming to be back on court in about 3 weeks time for light training matches and into the full swing of things in 6-8 weeks based on how quickly things are healing (swelling still bad but pain is going and mobility is coming back quickly).

One thing I'll have to add to this thread is the review of the new ankle brace I've ordered from the US. In the UK they cost an absolute fortune (£50!) I got one delivered from America for £28 including postage! Should be here in 6-10 days and I'll post a proper review when it arrives




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From rippa rit - 23 May 2008 - 20:26   -   Updated: 23 May 2008 - 20:45

wow Adz that is a bad sprain.  Thanks for the pics.  I hope you did not snap anything.  No doubt you will get an x-ray to check out how much damage, if any, has occurred.

You know the only shoes squash players ever wore years ago  were Volley OC and then Volley International (with the green trim), and they are still worn today by roofers as great climbing and gripping shoes. To-day there are all sorts of shoes for all sorts of things, and they do look trendy, mostly with a focus on arch support and innersoles, etc. but in getting this support the thickness of the sole is almost as thick as the upper.  The higher the sole/heel the more prone to rolling over when squash players twist and turn at great speed. 

You know as I am writing this I am visualising ballet shoes, and dance movements.  I see a lot of resemblance to ballet and squash in terms of speed and change of direction, and yet the shoes seem to be nothing like it.......

If this is the same ankle as you sprained previously I think strapping is a must from here on - a damn nuisance  for sure.


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