Are the foot injuries related to the elevated practice fields?

In another post, I talked about being amazed that Broyles, Holtz, Hatfield, Ford, Nutt, and Petrino teams did not have the number of foot injuries that Bielema’s teams have had. Knile Davis is the only major player I can remember unable to play due to a broken bone in his foot. Jamario Bell is now the latest in a string of players like Greenlaw, J-Williams, a bunch of receivers, etc. out for a significant time with foot injuries.

So, did they start after the elevated practice fields were constructed? This is the only factor that I can think of that is unique to the Razorbacks. Other teams use the same shoes we do, practice the same way we do, etc. I don’t remember those foot injuries occurring during games, just during practice. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Could there be something causing excessive stress on foot bones as players make sharp cuts running routes and changing directions in the support system or lack thereof under those practice fields? Did they save money by not installing the equivalent of the earth (over the concrete deck) support for the sand, mesh, man-made grass, and plastic beads that go into a “Field Turf” type surface? I think I heard that one field is natural grass and one is artificial turf. Are the injuries occurring more on one than the other? Could the earth under the natural grass combined with some kind of drainage beads be compacted to the point that it is too hard, not giving the cushion that fields built over normal dirt give?

Just curious.

Some of the injuries happened in games. Hatcher broke his when he came down awkwardly against Toledo. Greenlaw broke his when an Alabama lineman stepped on it at the goal line. Mitchell Loewen broke his during an LSU game. Kody Walker broke his when he was tackled during the spring game, then re-injured it against Alabama.

The ones I remember being injured in practice (from a foot perspective) are Cody Hollister, Jamario Bell, Alexy Jean-Baptiste and Jonathan Williams - four in three years, not an altogether large number considering how many times these players practice in the spring, preseason and season, and the violent nature of football.

I’ve heard a lot of theories about the broken feet. I know Bielema has heard them, too. He said last year that they had inspected a lot in regards to the foot injuries to see if it was something they were doing, or just a run of bad fortune. Someone - Clay, I think - said that Arkansas sent back a batch of shoes it didn’t feel offered enough support, or something to that extent.

Also Knile Davis broke his ankle, not his foot.

So taking Knile off the table makes the situation even more curious. Can I get a yes or no on “have all of these foot injuries occurred after the Hogs started practicing on the elevated fields?” If so, can that wear and tear from repeated practicing on those fields be a factor in the injuries that then occur later on other fields?

I know Bell broke his on those fields; past that, I don’t know where the practice injuries occurred. They also practice in the Walker Pavilion and in the stadium.

I don’t think the field is the deal. I think it’s shoes. As I detailed in the spring, I spoke to trainer Matt Summers on this issue. I believe it might have been on pro day. We talked about 30 minutes covering a lot of the situations. Almost all of them were different. Believe me, he’s studied the issue. The most common factor for most of them was a type of shoe Nike sent. It had a small sole plate that could have left the fifth metatarsel exposed to a blow. They had three types of shoes, but almost all of the players gravitated to that shoe because of its comfort and weight. It was the lightest shoe Nike had ever delivered.

Matt said fifth metatarsel breaks were up all across football. Again, the shoe seems to be what most are pointing at. If you look, there are a bunch of teams wearing the same shoes. Obviously, the fields are all different.

The fifth metatarsel has been breaking for years. It’s the most fragile bone in the body. It breaks a lot. Both my wife and daughter broke it in the last year. Both in far different ways. My daughter was doing box jumps. Why a 36-year-old third grade teacher is doing box jumps I can’t tell you. I guess she wants to make sure she can catch them if the kid bolts. Two doctors asked her to give up that exercise. She landed on the side of her foot to break it. My wife stumbled over a curb. I wanted to know if she was looking at her cell phone on Facebook. She glared at me. OK, we don’t ask those kind of questions anymore.

One doctor told me they have had an increase in fifth metatarsel breaks in the last couple of years. Why? Are we getting worse in our intake of what it takes to make healthy bones? Why is the general population breaking the fifth metatarsel? That’s worth considering. My daughter said the X-ray tech told her he’d seen an inordinate number of fifth metatarsel breaks in the last couple of years. Are the shoe manufacturers doing something to put that bone in more stress? Are they making shoes too light? Less support? Probably. But there may be tons of variables here worth studying.

Summers said every injury was different, but they don’t wear those shoes anymore. the sole plates are wider and more sturdy now. But still, when a 250-pounder cuts and the grass gives way under his foot and it rolls in a strange way, things break.

There is not much taping can do to support the fifth metatarsel. Studies have revealed that a tape job is strong for about 17 seconds, then the tape isn’t going to provide really much support. Trainers still use about $30,000 in tape every year. I asked an surgeon about the tape story and he confirmed it.

The shoe is always the first thing trainers and doctors want to know about. The shoe in question caused problems all across college football. Matt and other trainers have worked together to do studies and compare notes. And, they work with NFL teams. The same things happened with that shoe all across football. It was thrown out after one season. It’s probably what created the injuries at Arkansas that are 10-18 months ago.

The most recent injuries don’t have anything to do with that shoe. And, there is a belief that the current shoes are providing better support (if not great support) for the fifth metatarsel.

I don’t think there is any real problem with the practice fields above the parking garage. There is one that’s field turf and one that is natural grass. They also use the indoor field inside Walker Pavilion. They also use the game field inside the stadium. As has been pointed out, broken feet (that fifth metatarsel) has been broken on all of those fields and in Little Rock and on LSU’s field.

When Nike sends a new shoe (or any other shoe company), it’s new and the data isn’t extensive. You assume that it’s going to be a good thing, not a bad thing. I will say that trainers, doctors and coaches do chart everything. They don’t take anything for granted.

I think he’s trying to say since we’ve started using the elevated practice fields n general, not that they all occurred there.

Arkansas began using the new practice fields in Bielema’s first preseason.

There is absolutely no reason to think that the practice fields have anything to do with it. You think the grass (or turf) is harder because it’s on a platform? Turf is laid on a hard subsurface no matter what (such as what’s under the field at RRS), and grass is on top of a fair amount of dirt (plus the cushioning effects of the blades of grass themselves, even as short as they’re cut).

Stress fractures can exist a long time and break later.

Swine, the bearing capacity of top soil is way less than poured concrete. Athletes that play basketball on bare concrete get far more wear and tear than athletes playing on wood floors. That is because the wood floor has pads under the 2x4 sleepers (usually laid out at 12" to 16" o.c. under what you see on top) that lets the floor give when you put hundreds of pounds of pressure on a heel or foot bone impacting the surface. If there is solid concrete under the 6" of sand that makes up the base of Field Turf or solid concrete under 6" of top soil with grass growing on it, that surface will be much harder when athletes land or push off on it. That could lead to more stress fractures which can lead to more breaks. Maybe it is not built that way and maybe all of these foot injuries are all Nike’s fault, but I doubt that the five years of numerous foot injuries at the same time they switched to the elevated practice fields is a coincidence.

About this issue. I’m a FP doc & have seen an increase in these 5th metatarsal fractures in regular (non athlete) patients, younger & older. I’ve scratched my head after the 1st few then starting checking labs and found several were deficient in their vitamin D levels. Most of us were trained to look closely at calcium as a culprit of fractures & thinning bones(osteopenia & osteoporosis)but I’m convinced vitamin D plays a more vital role in this than first thought.

Would be interesting to see some medical studies on this. If it’s happening to elite athletes, Lord help the rest of us!

I enjoyed Clay’s comments about this. I’ll check with the trainer & orthopedist for our local college(ULM) & La Tech to inquire about what they’re hearing out of their camps & those of LSU, both the main campus & the medical academic campuses in Shreveport & New Orleans. LSU is usually good about disseminating medical info like this to local docs & high school trainers & coaches.

Vitamin D is a good place to start. And I would also wonder if youngsters are not drinking milk anymore. Sports drinks and protein shakes are the rage.

IF a LB or RB lifts 550 lbs standing on his feet AND mildly creates stress fractures; would the mild stress fractures heal quickly or would they last for a few months? Vitamin D could be pivotal here I assume. Would they develop in Off Season weight lifting and flare up in full contact drills later when they cut laterally into contact and create high dynamic loads?

Were your wife and daughter stepping over curbs or doing box jumps on an elevated practice field wearing Nike shoes provided by Arkansas’ training staff since Bret Bielema became coach in Fayetteville? :wink:

There are a lot of factors at play here. Today’s players are bigger than ever. That in itself puts a lot of strain on the lower body, particularly the ankles and feet. And, weight room workouts, as mentioned above, can create stresses that don’t manifest themselves in detectable injuries immediately. But, when you factor in all these things and then go with a super light shoe that doesn’t provide the needed support in the critically vulnerable areas, the result is fully understandable.

Nike shoes are everywhere in our house. Not sure they were being worn at that time. They are tired of me asking questions about their broken fifth metatarsals. Sorry.