New test to reduce injury risk of studded footwear in sport

2nd February 2018

A new testing mechanism that aims to reduce the risk of skin lacerations caused by rugby or football boots has been developed at Sheffield Hallam University.

Up to 23 per cent of injuries in rugby union matches are skin lacerations and Bodil Oudshoorn, who won a prestigious Vice-Chancellor's PhD scholarship to conduct her research, has been working with World Rugby to develop a realistic and reliable test method to assess the safety of different stud designs. The project has now been published in the Footwear Science journal. A survey of 191 rugby players, from amateur to elite level, found that 71 per cent of players had experienced a substantial laceration injury which resulted in hindered play and/or leaving the pitch. The majority of these laceration injuries occurred during a ruck and were caused from a stamping movement by players wearing studded boots. Following a biomechanical study that looked at the specific action of stamping in the ruck, Bodil developed a two-phase mechanical test to quantify laceration injury risk of individual studs. Phase one replicates the impact caused by the initial stamping motion while phase two mimics a raking motion that was observed during the biomechanical study. The size of the wound indicated on the skin simulant used in the test method helps to quantify the level of injury risk from the stud. The project, which recently won the Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research is currently testing a number of stud designs which will be reported back to World Rugby and it is hoped the test will become part of mandatory, global regulations for manufacturers designing studded footwear. "Laceration injuries sustained by players frequently require stitching and expose players to risk of infections," says Bodil, who is based in Hallam's Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER). "There is currently no mandatory testing method for manufacturers to test the safety of their stud designs and this project has the potential to be adapted as an international standard for assessing laceration injury risk."

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