Athletes with air cell shoes are 'four times more likely to injure an ankle'

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Expensive trainers with air cells in the heels make athletes four times more likely to damage their ankles, according to a study published today.

Expensive trainers with air cells in the heels make athletes four times more likely to damage their ankles, according to a study published today.

Air-cell shoes give the heels less stability and leave ankles more vulnerable to injury, physiotherapists from Australia say.

In a court-side study, the researchers observed more than 10,000 amateur basketball players and documented 40 ankle injuries. Players with air cells in their heels were 4.3 times more likely to be injured than those with shoes without air cells, the team from La Trobe University, Victoria, found.

Gaylene McKay, the physiotherapist who led the study, said: "It may be hypothesised air cells located in the heels of basketball shoes decrease rear foot stability, which may in turn increase the risk of ankle injury."

The study, published in today's British Journal of Sports Medicine, found an injury rate of 3.85 per 1,000 players. This was substantially less than a similar basketball study 25 years ago, which suggested that training methods and footwear quality have improved over time.

But the latest study found that players wearing trainers with air cells ran the second greatest risk of injury, behind players who had a history of ankle trouble, who ran nearly five times the risk of injury as those with intact ankles. The third most vulnerable group were players who failed to do stretching exercises during warm-up. Nearly half the injuries occurred during landing, often by treading on another player's foot. Sharp twisting and turning, an important part of basketball technique, accounted for another 30 per cent of injuries.

A second study reveals that aerobic exercise, such as running or walking, can work faster than drugs in lifting depression. Patients who had failed to respond to anti-depressants were substantially happier after just 10 days of visiting the gym.

Twelve patients who had suffered depression for at least nine months were asked to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes every day, alternating between fast and slow activity. After 10 days, six patients were substantially less depressed, including five who had not responded to anti-depressants. Another two were slightly less depressed while four patients showed no improvement.

Although it was a small study, the authors, from the department of sport medicine at Freie University of Berlin, say that aerobic training could offer a safe treatment for significant numbers of patients who do not benefit from drugs.

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