Background: While the roles of injury prevention and performance enhancement have increasingly been investigated for badminton footwear, there is a lack of research on gender-specific badminton footwear. The purpose of this study was to examine the gender differences in footwear demands and foot injuries in badminton.
Methods: A supervised questionnaire survey of 326 recreational badminton players was collected. The questionnaire was divided into four sections enquiring about the characteristics of (1) participant profiles, (2) importance of shoe properties (3) shoe complaints. (4) and pain or discomfort in different foot regions. The Mann-Whitney U test and Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test were performed to determine the differences between genders and the differences between leg dominance, respectively. The significance level was set at 0.05.
Results: Both males and females rated shoe fit as the most important features, followed by overall comfort, and injury protection. Females considered forefoot cushioning, comfort, breathability and color as the more important compared with other properties, which showed distinct pattern differences from males. The shoe problem results indicated that plantar pain of the non-dominant foot was considered the most commonly reported footwear problem by both males and females. The problem of excessive arch-support on the dominant and non-dominant sides of male participants was significantly higher than females (p < 0.05). Occasional pain or frequent pain were mainly distributed in the forefoot, followed by the rearfoot and midfoot regions.
Conclusion: There were small differences in footwear demand between the dominant and non-dominant sides, but several differences existed between females and males. The results from gender differences suggested that female specific shoes prefer a specific better fit, rather than a modified version of male shoes. In the future, the design of badminton shoes should consider footwear demands and foot discomfort profiles in respective male and female badminton players.