How many times have you been running up and down the basketball court only to realize that you’ve miss-stepped and rolled or sprained your ankle? Unfortunately, that’s an all too common injury among amateur and professional players, and now one shoe-maker has made it its mission to put an end to basketball-related ankle sprains.

Basketball and Ankle Sprains: a Common Combination high top Nike sneakers

Ankle injuries are a typical basketball injury. Players often jump with both feet off the ground, landing off-balance or with a twist. Ankle sprains can also occur when players suddenly change direction on the court, as frequently occurs with turnovers and fast breaks. These kinds of sprains most often affect a player's outside (lateral) ligaments. Depending upon the amount of ligament tearing, a sprain can either be mild, moderate or severe. 

A mild sprain occurs when minimal force hits the ankle, so that there is only a slight stretching or tearing of the ligaments. Pain and swelling are minimal, walking is usually a possibility (although not recommended). 

A moderate sprain occurs when there is a partial tearing of the ligaments. Pain, swelling and bruising will be more noticeable, and it will likely be tough to walk. 

With a severe sprain, ligaments are torn all the way through. Pain and swelling occur right away, and are very noticeable. Bruising will likely appear on both sides of the ankle and bones may be even get involved, becoming chipped or broken from the force of the injury. 

All levels of severity are commonly sustained by basketball players and other athletes, which is why one shoemaker knew it was time to make a change. 

Injury-Preventing Basketball Sneakers

Founded in 2009, Ektio’s sole purpose was to prevent ankle injuries on the basketball court by creating innovative shoes; according to NBA legends John Starks and Rick Barry, they’ve succeeded (both former players are helping promote the new shoe and have stakes in the company.)

Ektio Breakaway shoes are equipped with several features that keep them from rolling and allowing you to sustain an ankle injury. First, they have bumpers placed strategically along the outside of the shoes that act as stoppers; you cannot roll your foot past 20 degrees in these shoes, and ankle injuries tend to begin when your foot rolls to 50 or 60 degrees. Second, the shoe also has two sets of ankle straps; one that goes across the ankle inside and one that goes around the outside of the shoe, giving real support to the delicate ligaments that so often get strained or sprained.

With all those extra features, players are sure to be worried that their step might be thrown off or their game slowed down, but early studies done by Ektio show that no players felt like they lost accuracy in their shots, and in fact found 42% of players felt their game improved when wearing the new kicks.

No ankle sprains, plenty of cool different styles and a competitive price tag (about $130): why wouldn’t you buy these shoes the next time you’re in the market for a new pair of sneakers? For more info on these innovative new sneakers, view their website here. But before you checkout, we do need to share some important research that leaves us asking: do high tops prevent ankle sprains? 

Do High Tops Prevent Ankle Sprains? What the Research Says basketball net with ball

Sneaker brands and many players swear that wearing the right shoes can keep ankles from rolling. But there are so many factors to consider. First, not all "high-tops" actually have high tops. In fact, this scientific review shows that the actual height of shoes under this name has a range of more than 4 cm. So one brand's high top is another brand's low top. 

And that's not all. In that same review, researchers uncovered an important statistic. While high tops do prevent ankle sprains when players are standing still, and face external pressure, that's not the case for when players are in motion. Here, they noticed, high tops didn't prevent sprained ankles. Instead, the shoes seemed to affect the way players moved during athletic play. In turn, that gait change could even increase the risk for a sports injury

Other Ways to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Here's another worrying discovery from recent research. While high tops change players' gait, it could also reduce their athletic performance. Specifically, players in high tops could make it harder for you to jump. At the same time, the kicks could reduce shock absorption, putting more pressure on your feet and ankles. So, if you have a history of foot or ankle injuries, high tops sneakers probably aren't your best shoe option. 

Still, basketball and other high impact sports are tough on your ankles. And you need stability to stay safe as you make quick cuts and direction changes. But if high tops are out, what's a better option? Luckily, you have a few paths in front of you! 

First, you can try taping or bracing your ankles during active play. This can give you some extra stability. But it shouldn't change the way the muscles in your lower body works. So you won't increase your risk for injury. 

Next, whatever shoes you choose to wear, make sure they fit you properly. Sizes differ across brands. And even across styles within the same shoe brand. So it's important to get fitted, in real life, for any new sneaker pair you consider. (Check out our sneaker fit guide here for more shoe shopping tips.)

Finally, instability could be the result of your foot shape. Or your unique biomechanics. (That describes how your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons work together to make you move.) In some cases, it will be impossible to stabilize your foot unless we change your biomechanics. And the best way to do that is to fit you for custom orthotics

Do High Tops Prevent Ankle Sprains? Maybe. But So Do Orthotics

When we fit you for orthotics, we can provide support for every area of weakness in your foot. That means you can say goodbye to ankle instability. In fact, you may notice that other nagging foot pains disappear as well! 

Now, here's something important to remember. We offer a variety of orthotic designs. And we can customize them to suit your specific needs. So if you're getting orthotics to prevent ankle sprains during basketball games, be sure to mention that to us at your fitting. Because we construct sports orthotic in slightly different ways from the ones you wear to get through your regular daily activities. 

Looking to prevent or treat ankle sprains? Or do you need some help for other foot or ankle problems?  Come see your Houston podiatrist at Tanglewood Foot Specialists immediately.