Trainers are a mirror to the soul says Brighton academic
5:00am Tuesday 22nd October 2013
The type of trainers sportsmen wear are a mirror of their souls according to a new university study.
Sportsmen wear flashy, bright boots to let fellow competitors and spectators that they are masculine, cocky, and excellent at their sport, according to new research at the University of Brighton.
Those who wear all-white trainers are usually 'uber' masculine and can be aggressive.
Dr Christopher Morriss-Roberts, senior lecturer in the School of Health Professions in Eastbourne, said your choice of what shoes you wear often speak volumes about the kind of person you are.
He said: "I have always felt that understanding why people wear the shoes they do and what those shoes mean to them are fundamental to our role as a podiatrist."
His research introduced him to the concept of podolinguistics – the ability to communicate feelings or attitudes via the foot and shoe.
He said: "I decided to focus on sportsmen and the connection they have with their bodies and footwear. I interviewed eight sportsmen with differing sexualities and from a variety of sporting disciplines, some professional and others semi-professional, including rugby, tennis, bodybuilding , football, squash and gymnastics."
They discussed their sporting lives, their bodies, why they wore the sports shoes they did, and how they read messages into the shoes that other men wore.
He said: 'The results were interesting. I found the lived reality of sportsmen and a podolinguistics relationship to other sportsmen existed quite profoundly.
"Sportsmen who wore flashy, bright boots in the sports environment were signalling that they were masculine, cocky, and excellently-skilled sportsmen; the term peacocking was used.
"The problem was, if you were going to wear bright sporting footwear, you had better be good at your sport or other sportsmen would aim to hurt you, and get you out of the game.
"This led to most of the sportsmen preferring to wear black or neutral coloured sporting footwear; this was also seen as traditional.
"The research also highlighted that those who wore all-white trainers were considered uber masculine. It was felt that the podolinguistic signifiers of this footwear were of gang culture and aggression.
"However, sportsmen who wore these shoes felt that they gave the shoe an identity, rather than the shoe giving them one."
Dr Morriss-Roberts said future research could look into people's choices for everyday and evening footwear.
He said: "Podolinguistics is still in its early stages but I think opening up this discussion to the podiatric community, away from but including sports sociologists, will be an interesting experience."
Dr Morriss-Roberts discusses his findings in further detail in Writing in Podiatry Now, the journal for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.