In basketball, tremendous force is put upon the ankles and feet. Without proper equipment and preparation, injuries will almost always occur. Two distinct types of injury to the feet and ankles can occur in basketball: acute injury from a sudden and forceful blow, or chronic injury, which slowly develops and becomes worse over time.
Most acute foot and ankle injuries occur from landing improperly from a jump or twisting while falling. These are usually accidental and are difficult to prevent. The most common acute injuries are ankle sprains, but also include ligament tears, pulled muscles and broken bones.
Chronic, or overuse, injuries can be caused by not warming up adequately, poor conditioning, shoe fit issues, worn out shoes, or a biomechanical problem that causes excessive stress on the foot and ankle. Common chronic injuries seen in basketball include stress fractures of the shins and metatarsals, plantar fasciitis, sesamoiditis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and blisters.
Similar injuries are also seen in volleyball.
Some acute injuries occur following mid-air collisions, erratic lunges for a rebound, or scrambles after a loose ball, and can’t be helped, but chronic injuries can be averted with proper conditioning, equipment, and good sense on the court.
We recommend gradual warm-up before beginning vigorous play. A separate weight-lifting regimen of both upper and lower body muscles helps prevent injuries before they happen.
Shoes can also help prevent injuries. Shoes should be specific to basketball, with lots of ankle support and shock absorption. Some of our recommended basketball shoes are listed on our recommended shoe list.
Some high-topped shoes offer more ankle support. Shoes should fit well and be replaced before the soles become smooth, or before the uppers begin to tear or come apart. A typical basketball shoe should be replaced approximately every two to three months if they are being used five days per week. . Also, to prevent blistering avoid cotton socks and use acrylic socks.
If you play volleyball, use volleyball-specific shoes. Volleyball shoes are similar to basketball shoes, but usually are lighter, have less midsole support, and a “tighter” sole that is more responsive to quick starts and stops.
When the Game’s Over
Acute injuries require immediate medical attention. After a bad fall or painful twist, stop playing immediately. The best treatment for acute injury is RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injured extremity. Then make an appointment to see us as soon as possible. .
If you have a chronic injury, reduce your activity level until you have no pain. If nagging pain gets worse during a game, stop playing and then apply ice and a compression bandage. Also, elevate your foot.
If pain does not subside within three to five days, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle office. We will explore possible causes of the injury. Chronic pain can often be traced to a biomechanical abnormality that is placing undue stress on a particular part of the foot or ankle.
Biomechanical abnormalities can be corrected by prescription orthotic devices–specially constructed shoe inserts that redistribute the body’s weight evenly on the foot and ankle.
Proper stretching and strengthening programs, shoe modifications, or strapping of the foot and ankle can also correct biomechanical problems. Lower extremity structural problems that often lead to injury include flat feet, high arches, bowed legs, and tight Achilles tendon.
Orthotics for Basketball
The type of orthotics we prescribe for basketball players is dependent on the problem each individual player presents with. Players experiencing ankle sprains may receive a very different orthotic then those experiencing heel pain. A complete biomechanical and gait evaluation will help us determine the proper orthotic for your specific problem.
Characteristics of a quality basketball shoe
Whether you are buying basketball shoes for a child on the team at school or for an adult playing a pick-up game, there are certain characteristics you should always look for in a basketball shoe. First and foremost, you should never buy sports shoes without the wearer trying them on for fit, support, and comfort.
- The fit of the shoes should be snug, without constricting circulation or comfort.
- The heel should be snug, with a firm “heel counter,” the portion of the upper behind the heel.
- A removable insole so that an arch support or custom orthotic can be added to the shoe.
- Flex in the forefoot, near the ball, rather than in the arch.
- Cushioning in the mid-sole of the shoe to absorb shock.
- A lightweight, breathable upper.
- Good traction with a dense, abrasion-resistant sole.
- A roomy toe box that will allow the toes to flex without friction.
- Lace-up closures rather than Velcro or something similar to help provide support and stability to the entire foot.
- Visit our Shoe Evaluation Page for more hints on finding the right basketball shoe.
- Visit our Shoe Fitting Tips Page for hints on how to get a great fitting basketball shoe.
Getting Back on the Court
Basketball is tremendously tough on the feet and ankles. In fact, it is one of the most demanding sports, physically and mentally, on the entire body.. Understand that basketball puts the entire body under stress and at risk of injury.
When you do injure your foot or ankle while playing basketball, the injured area must be given time to heal properly. Then, adequate support with shoes, splints, tape and / or orthotics may be necessary.
Finally, and just as important, is the need to strengthen the injured area back to its pre-injury strength. If not, it will remain weak and make further injury much more likely.
We can help you treat foot and ankle injuries. But if you see us before an injury, we can help you prevent them. If you are active in basketball, especially if you are getting a little older, make an appointment to see us soon so we can keep you playing injury free.