Basketball Shoes & Injuries

Too many basketball players overlook the importance of buying a durable and high-quality pair of basketball shoes, which is astounding when you consider how much time they spend pounding their feet into the ground. Bad shoes can lead not only to foot and ankle problems, but leg, hip, and even back pain as well. That's because alignment begins with your feet and moves up to influence the rest of your body.  In time, the stress to a certain soft tissue or bone structure will create a fatigue injury which then renders the player unable to participate in his or her sport.

The average high school basketball player can greatly decrease his/her incidence of overuse injury by simply replacing his/her basketball shoes frequently, said Michael Lowe, DPM, team podiatrist of the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association. Dr. Lowe presented a study which showed that the average high school basketball player will utilize only one pair of new basketball shoes per season. Dr. Lowe recommends that the basketball shoe be changed monthly during the season. This has been found to greatly decrease the rate of injury to professional players, to the point that they will often replace shoe gear every two to three days or games.

The use of proper shoe gear has a strong relationship to the performance and stability of foot function within the shoe. Those shoes which compliment foot requirements for stability, flexibility and shock absorption, can greatly aid in the dissemination of stress to foot and leg structure. The amount of stress applied to the shoe gear before replacement with a new shoe also has a profound influence upon protecting the athlete. Most runners are encouraged to replace shoe gear every 350 -500 miles depending upon the size of the runner and his or her running environment. The same should be true of the basketball player. The average runner will spend about 66 hours in running to accumulate 500 miles on a pair of shoes (8 minute per mile pace times 500 miles). The average high school or collegiate athlete will work out easily 72 hours per month. Basketball shoes are now made of the same types of materials, i.e. eva or polyurethane midsole and a harder outer sole material. These materials all have a fatigue factor which greatly influences function of foot and stress delivered to bone and soft tissue structures. Players in the NBA will rarely use a basketball shoe for longer than 7-10 days before replacing it with a new pair of shoes.

A positive secondary by-product of frequent shoe change is that of a protective influence of shoe gear to foot and ankle stability to external forces. As the shoe is worn over hours of use the leather uppers slowly begin to stretch to the rotational forces applied. Also the midsole material slowly deforms or compresses to repetitive ballistic starting and stopping of play. As these external changes to the shoe continue the rotational movement of the foot within the shoe slowly increases in range of motion. Therefore it can be seen that with newer shoe usage, there will be fewer inversion injuries as compared to injuries due to the lack of support from worn and stretched shoe gear materials which lack the integrity to decelerate foot rotational movement beyond normal positioning.

The use of a high top basketball shoe is still one of the best means for protecting the ankle from inversion sprains. NBA players choose a wide variety of shoe gear styles to play in; 68% of the players utilize a high top shoe, 15% utilize a 3/4 top shoe, and only 10% will use a low top basketball shoe for regular play. Your choice will be tempered by what is available and what properly fits.

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