New shoe technology — and a new concept in cleats — could reduce the injury potential for players in the FIFA Women's World Cup that begins July 20.
Nike's newest soccer shoe, the Phantom Luna, studied about 350 female players' feet over two years. That research resulted in not only an updated fit for women's feet but also a circular cleat pattern to allow users to pivot during play without putting as much stress on the knee.
Yale University's School of Medicine noted in 2020 that a female athlete is two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL tear in the knee than men. That may be due to physical differences between men and women — women have a wider pelvis, which changes the mechanics of how the upper leg, knee and lower leg function, Yale Medicine noted. At the same time, female athletes haven't been the focus of as many studies as men, so there's more to learn.
In The Guardian, Sophie Downey reported that 25 percent of the female nominees for soccer's Ballon d'Or prize had ACL injuries at some point this season. It wasn't until 2020, Downey wrote, that women's specific cleats were put on the market — first by Ida Sports, followed by Puma and now global sportswear giant Nike this year.