Spoiler: No :) But keep reading because it is not just my opinion, but statistical data from which you can learn other factors that are important in preventing this injury.
In recent years, low-top trekking shoes are becoming more and more popular, but still many people are convinced that in the interests of our safety, we should hike in high-tops. As scientific studies show, just the height of the shoe does not matter.
Chinese scientists conducted in 2010 a survey of 590 members of uniformed groups, asking them if they had ankle sprains during hiking and trying to detect factors that affect the risk of this injury.
The prevalence of ankle sprain was 9.15%. 50% of them got sprained in down slope, 17% on level ground, 15% walking downstairs and others while hiking up slope or up stairs. The most dangerous terrain is the scree, which caused 52% of ankle sprains. 22% injuried the ankle while hiking on the cement and the others on different terrain.
The results also showed that a greater risk of injury concerns people who are overweight (BMI > 22.9) and people who have previously experienced ankle sprain or other ankle injuries. Improper rehabilitation to the previous injury could lead to residual problems, like muscle strength impairment, persistent ligamentous laxity, diminished muscle flexibility and joint movement that lead to repeated injuries.
Regarding footwear, statistics have shown that the risk of ankle sprains increases the inadequate size of the shoes or inadequate shoe lace tightness. However, the authors of the publication do not indicate whether it is more often too large or too small size and whether it is too tight or too loose.
The survey participants mostly wore hiking shoes or running shoes. Some used others, e.g. basketball shoes or marching shoes. The type of footwear, however, did not correlate with the frequency of ankle sprains, nor did the height of the shoe. The degree of shoe damage also did not matter.
Interestingly, it turned out that ankles were more often sprained by people using hiking poles. This contradicts the results of other studies and may be due to the fact that subjects were mostly teenagers who may not have the ability to use hiking poles properly, and their incorrect use may disturb the natural balanced walking movement and increase the risk of injury in a difficult terrain.
The height of shoes and its impact on the prevention of ankle injuries was also studied among US basketball players. The results were consistent with uniformed groups injury statistics, i.e. athletes who played in low-tops just as often had ankle sprains as those who used high-tops.
- Oscar L W-H, Tun-Hing L, Kai-Ming Ch. (2011). The Epidemiology of Ankle Sprain During Hiking in Uniformed Groups. Journal of Orthopaedics, Trauma and Rehabilitation, 15, 10-16.
- Barrett, J. R., Tanji, J. L., Drake, C., Fuller, D., Kawasaki, R. I., & Fenton, R. M. (1993). High- versus low-top shoes for the prevention of ankle sprains in basketball players: A prospective randomized study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine,(4), 582–585.
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