Ankle injuries are the most common and the most preventable injury that occurs in basketball players, according to a study conducted by the University of Vermont. Running, jumping, dunking, sudden stopping and turning as well as incidental contact on the court increase the chances of a player sustaining an ankle injury. Proper form, conditioning and strengthening exercises can help a player reduce his risk of a basketball ankle injury. Ankle braces are another common means of reducing injuries and allowing players to return to the game quicker after an injury. The style of ankle brace used by a player depends largely on the preference of the player and the team's training staff.
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Basketball places a large amount of stress on the ankles, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. Injuries can include sprains, fractures and tendinitis, as well as damage to the ligaments and tendons surrounding the ankle. Ankle injuries in basketball can be traumatic. Meaning, they occur as the result of contact with another player, fall or sudden twisting of the ankle. Ankle injuries can also become chronic. Chronic injuries are often the result of repeat ankle sprains or returning to the game too quickly after a severe ankle injury. Injuries can also occur due to lack of conditioning, failing to warm-up, shoes that do not fit appropriately or bio-mechanical deformities.
Traumatic injuries in basketball cannot be prevented. It is impossible to know when or where a collision or fall will occur on the basketball court. Overuse injuries and chronic ankle conditions, however, can be prevented. Proper conditioning and wearing the appropriate footwear can cut down on the number of chronic injuries seen in basketball, according to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. When choosing a basketball shoe, you should have shock absorption as well as adequate ankle support. Shoes should be the appropriate size and should be replaced when they become worn. Shoes with high-tops provide ankle support and are frequently recommended by doctors. If you are unsure if your shoes are fitted appropriately, have a fitting at a store that specializes in basketball shoes or take them along to a visit with a foot and ankle doctor.
Ankle braces are very popular among players who have sustained chronic ankle injuries, are recovering from an ankle injury or have an ankle condition. Braces help the ankle to better support the weight of your body. This minimizes the stress placed on the ankle. Basketball players with ankle problems will often use an ankle brace for their entire basketball career, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Choosing a Brace
A visit with your physician can help determine the best type of ankle brace for your particular ankle problem. A physical examination and possible imaging tests can help provide you with an exact diagnosis of your ankle problem. If you suspect you have an ankle injury, you should always alert your basketball team's training staff and visit your physician.
Types of Ankle Braces
Ankle braces can cost anywhere from $20 to over $80 as of 2011. Depending on your health insurance plan, an ankle brace may be available to you at little or no cost. You can purchase an ankle brace online, in drug stores, medical supplies stores and sporting goods stores. Ankle braces are made of different materials and can provide anywhere from minimal to maximum ankle support. For minimal support, athletic taping or an elastic bandage -- such as an ACE bandage -- can provide enough support. Other braces are made of strictly an elastic, stretchy material -- such as a compression brace. A majority of ankle braces that provide maximum support combine laces, Velcro and an elastic material. Adolescent basketball players wearing lace-up ankle braces have 68 percent fewer injuries than those not wearing a brace, according to research study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Tim McGuine, the lead researcher in this study and an athletic trainer, notes that wearing lace-up ankle braces is one of the best cost-effective injury-prevention strategies for basketball players.