Understanding traction for sports shoe and surface combinations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

With increased levels of obesity and the associated health concerns, exercise is being actively promoted across the population, resulting in an increased requirement for provision of sports facilities. One approach to this provision is through increased access to safe, high quality sports surfaces. Recent initiatives by governments as well as national and international sports governing bodies have led to increased funds being available for sports surfaces to be installed. In the UK, many of the new sports surfaces are synthetic. Advantages over natural sports surfaces, such as grass or cinder, include a reduced impact of weather conditions, lower levels of maintenance, and greater tolerance of multi-sport use. However, an increase in exercise and sport on artificial surfaces, as opposed to natural surfaces, has been suggested to have resulted in an increase in sport and exercise related injuries. For exercise to be a successful strategy for improving the health of the nation, it is important that quality, safe sports surfaces are provided. The proposed project takes a multidisciplinary approach to improving understanding of shoe-surface interaction, combining mechanical and biomechanical techniques. The project aims to improve the quality and safety of sports surfaces through an improved understanding of the factors associated with shoe-surface traction when performing on synthetic playing surfaces, with a specific focus on surfaces used in tennis and multi-sports surfaces utilised by a range of sports.The level of traction between the shoe and surface is the most frequently cited factor influencing injury occurrence and player performance. For example, a high percentage of injuries requiring medical treatment have been attributed to uncontrolled slipping as a result of low traction. In addition, ankle inversion injuries and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears have been associated with a high level of traction between the shoe and the surface. An adequate amount of linear and rotational traction is required to allow stopping and turning movements, but extreme levels of traction may increase the loads on the body to intolerable levels. In addition to high levels of traction increasing injury risk, it is likely that unexpected levels of traction are dangerous. Within reason, if high traction is expected, the participant is likely to adapt their movement pattern to maintain loads at a tolerable level. However, if surfaces are not sufficiently uniform, then the participant may not adapt adequately and injury risk will be increased. To ensure player safety and thus encourage continued safe participation in exercise, increased understanding of the influence of artificial surfaces on human biomechanics is required. The planned project will address the problem of traction-related injuries in sport and exercise by considering the specific characteristics of shoes and surfaces that influence their translational and rotational traction behaviour under loads applied during sporting applications. To achieve this aim, a multidisciplinary approach will be used. Mechanical test methods will be developed to characterise playing surfaces, using biomechanical data to provide boundary conditions. Engineering approaches will be used to determine specific material characteristics influential on traction behaviour. Human testing will be used to validate the results of mechanical tests and to investigate relationships between human biomechanics and perception and the material properties of tennis surfaces and footwear. As well as improving understanding of the physical interaction between player-shoe combinations and sports surfaces, this work has the potential to lead to improving standard test procedures for surfaces, both integral to ensuring a high level of performance and comfort (to encourage participation), and reducing the likelihood of injury.

Publications

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Clarke J (2011) Understanding the traction of tennis surfaces in Procedia Engineering

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Clarke J (2013) The development of an apparatus to understand the traction developed at the shoe-surface interface in tennis in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology

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Clarke J (2012) Understanding the influence of surface roughness on the tribological interactions at the shoe-surface interface in tennis in Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part J: Journal of Engineering Tribology

 
Title The Art of Engineering 
Description From July 2013 Bob Levene was the Artist in Residence in the Faculty of Engineering, university of Sheffield. She observed the work that goes on in the Faculty (including our work on tennis surfaces), exploring into the everyday practices of the researchers and getting to grips with the tools, processes and machines that are used. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact She made a series of artworks based on the initial research, that were exhibited at Festival of the Mind 2014 in addition to other events and venues. 
URL http://www.boblevene.co.uk/index.php/about/
 
Description This project took a multidisciplinary approach to improving understanding of shoe-surface interaction, combining mechanical and biomechanical techniques. It aimed to improve the quality and safety of sports surfaces through an improved understanding of the factors associated with shoe-surface traction when performing on synthetic playing surfaces, with a specific focus on surfaces used in tennis. The level of traction between the shoe and surface is the most frequently cited factor influencing injury occurrence and player performance. For example, a high percentage of injuries requiring medical treatment have been attributed to uncontrolled slipping as a result of low traction. In addition, ankle inversion injuries and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears have been associated with a high level of traction between the shoe and the surface.



This project addressed the problem of traction-related injuries in sport and exercise by considering the specific characteristics of shoes and surfaces that influence their translational and rotational traction behaviour under loads applied during sporting applications. To achieve this aim, a multidisciplinary approach was used. New mechanical test methods were developed to characterise playing surfaces, using biomechanical data to provide boundary conditions, the most useful being a bespoke lab-based traction rig capable of simulating shoe-surface interactions for a range of loading conditions. Engineering approaches have been used to determine specific material characteristics that influence the tribological mechanisms at play and consequent shoe traction behaviour. Human testing has been used to validate the results of mechanical tests and to investigate relationships between human biomechanics and perception and the material properties of tennis surfaces.
Exploitation Route There is potential for public engagement projects due to the accessible topic of tennis and sport. Some press releases have been put out leading to media coverage. Findings have been disseminated to the relevant academic audiences through journal papers and conference presentations (see Research Outcomes).



As well as improving understanding of the physical interaction between player-shoe combinations and sports surfaces, this work has the potential to lead to improving standard test procedures for sports surfaces, both integral to ensuring a high level of performance and comfort (to encourage participation), and reducing the likelihood of injury.



The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have organised a collaborative study hosted by the LTA to combine biomechanical kinetic and kinematic data with surface testing methods developed during this study. This has led to a new PhD project, sponsored by the ITF to develop a new portable court test device.



Further collaborations have also been fostered with the Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton, to look at more general shoe-surface interactions and how they affect pedestrian movements (for instance an EPSRC proposal was developed for the Design for Wellbeing call - ageing and mobility in the built environment).



Proof-of concept projects have also been carried out in collaboration with safety shoe and flooring manufacturers and we hope to apply the proven methodologies into the general fields of pedestrian safety and human-floor interactions, with potential to study falls in older populations.
Sectors Healthcare

URL http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/slipping-sliding-tennis-success-study-1.502605
 
Description Findings have been disseminated to the relevant academic audiences through journal papers and conference presentations. As well as improving understanding of the physical interaction between player-shoe combinations and sports surfaces, this work has the potential to lead to improving standard test procedures for sports surfaces, both integral to ensuring a high level of performance and comfort (to encourage participation), and reducing the likelihood of injury. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have organised a collaborative study hosted by the LTA to combine biomechanical kinetic and kinematic data with surface testing methods developed during this study. This has led to a new PhD project, sponsored by the ITF to develop a new portable court test device. Further collaborations have also been fostered with the Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton, to look at more general shoe-surface interactions and how they affect pedestrian movements (for instance an EPSRC proposal was developed for the Design for Wellbeing call - ageing and mobility in the built environment). Proof-of concept projects have also been carried out in collaboration with safety shoe and flooring manufacturers and we hope to apply the proven methodologies into the general fields of pedestrian safety and human-floor interactions, with potential to study falls in older populations. EPSRC Impact Acceleration funding has since been used to develop a device to assess slip resistance of footwear.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account
Amount £11,559 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2015 
End 09/2015
 
Description International Tennis Federation Ltd
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Funding ID R/134318 
Organisation International Tennis Federation 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2012 
End 09/2015
 
Description International Tennis Federation Ltd
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Funding ID R/134318 
Organisation International Tennis Federation 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2012 
End 07/2015
 
Description Knowledge Transfer Programme
Amount £181,353 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 04/2017
 
Description Part sponsored PhD as part of a CDT
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation International Tennis Federation 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Title New shoe-surface interaction measurement device 
Description A new lab-based system for replicating the bio mechanical loads and movements during the critical part of a shoe-surface interaction (e.g. at the onset of slipping). this system has been used on a number of research projects since, in the area of sport, health and safety and pedestrian movement. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It has been used as a benhcmarking lab-based device for other new portable devices to be developed. 
 
Description Collaborative projects with Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton 
Organisation Health and Safety Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Understanding of shoe-surface interactions and test devices developed during the study have led to collaborations with HSL, Buxton (part of the Health and Safety Executive) - linked in various ways to pedestrian slips and falls. Although projects are small at present, we are looking at way to scale them up into larger funded studies.
Start Year 2010
 
Description PhD sponsored by ITF 
Organisation International Tennis Federation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Through collaborating as part of the study, support for a funded PhD has been agreed by the ITF. The PhD that is planned will be to use understanding generated by the study to develop robust, portable test devices to predict the playing performance and safety of tennis surfaces.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Radio 5 live 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Radio appearance discussing tennis court slips - in response to press release on subject.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/slipping-sliding-tennis-success-study-1.502605