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Ankle Sprains: "The Most Common Injury in Basketball"

The most common type of ankle sprain occurs to the outside of the ankle. This is known as an inversion type sprain. It is caused by twisting the ankle during a jump or lateral motion.

The ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments that maintain the ankle position. Sprains are generally classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending upon the amount of damage to the ligaments.

If pain persists, it is important to seek medical advice from a podiatrist. After the acute phase, it is necessary to begin rehabilitation and prevention of future injuries.


Treatment: The initial treatment for an ankle sprain is described by the mneumonic: RICE.

Rest Decrease participation level.
Ice Apply ice over the first 24 hours. This has been proven to decrease the length of the injury by up to 50%. Do not use heat during the acute phase of an ankle sprain.
Compression Use ace wraps to provide compression to decrease pain and swelling.
Elevation Keep ankle raised above the heart to decrease swelling.


Rehabilitation of the Ankle
After an injury to the ankle, it is important to redevelop both strength and proprioception. This is best done through a program developed by a podiatrist, trainer, or physical therapist.


Prevention of Future Sprains

Taping: Application of tape has been shown to reduce the rate of ankle re-injury. The only problem with tape is that it loses strength after about 20 minutes of activity. Make sure a well trained person applies the tape.


Ankle Braces: Laboratory data has shown that the use of ankle braces has reduced the rate of initial and recurrent injuries. The advantage of braces over tape is that braces do not lose strength. In the long run it is cheaper to use a brace than tape. even though the initial expense is higher.


Sneakers: A quality pair of 3/4 or high top basketball sneakers can aid in injury prevention.


Socks for Basketball
Wearing the correct socks can help prevent blisters, damage to toenails, athletes foot, bursitis, plantar warts, and many other injuries.

Currently, the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine is recommending basketball players wear CoolMax or acrylic socks. These types of socks allow sweat to evaporate, which keeps the feet dry and prevents the problem of wrinkling and bunching often associated with cotton socks. (It is not recommended to wear cotton socks while playing basketball).


When to Replace Basketball Sneakers
According to Dr. Lowe, team podiatrist for the Utah Jazz, the average high school basketball player can reduce overuse injuries by simply changing his/her basketball sneakers frequently. NBA players often change their sneakers every two to three games. This is because there is a proven link between the replacement of sneakers and the prevention of injuries.

The average long distance runner replaces his/her running sneakers at about 350-500 miles (66 hours of running time). The average high school basketball player trains approximately 72 hours per month; but often does not change his/her sneak-ers during a 3 to 4 month long season. In addition, players often wear an old pair of sneakers for practice, which is the most likely time to develop an injury.

Even when the outside of the sneaker looks good, the midsole of a basketball sneaker (the eva) is often worn down. When this happens, there is added stress to bones and ligaments in the foot and the leg.

Currently, the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine is recommending that high school basketball players switch sneakers monthly.


Note: The information on this page is not a substitute for seeking professional medical care.



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