Do ski boots jeopardize the knees?


Modern professional ski boots

Do ski boots jeopardize the knees? 

In a word, yes. The more support around the ankle, which is what ski boots have provided more of over the past nearly 40 years, the more restriction on movement put on the knee, and thereby the risk of injury.

Ski boot and knee injury image from Sports Engineering, Inc’s WPI Investor Showcase PowerPoint

Increase in knee injuries with increase in ankle protection

Knee injuries have increased 209% as ski boots have evolved to protect the ankle.  Risk of injury to the knee has been an unintended consequence of the increased ankle protection.

Costs to repair knee injuries

Athletic shoes have also increased protection to the ankle and ankle and knee injuries have continued to increase. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears which typically cost about $50,000 to surgically repair, are needed in most cases. Surgeries to repair ACL injuries have become more common with the increase in ankle protection in shoes and boots.

Solution in training

Exercises, training and conditioning before activities has been long hailed as the main solution to avoiding knee injuries, yet the increases continue.

Solution in innovation

Sports Engineering, Inc.’s development team of mechanical engineering students led by Ph.D. Chris Brown of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, have created patented split sole technology that releases to adjust 20 mm in any and all directions that are appropriate, upon imminent ankle or knee injury. The split sole then automatically self-resets typically after the risk of injury subsides.

Click here to see the prototype of SEI’s sole innovation.


Dr. Chris Brown, WPI, Sports Engineering Inc., Presentation, WPI Investor Showcase