The #1 neighborhood basketball injury (and how to avoid it).


Basketball is one of the most popular neighborhood sports. All you need is a ball, a basket and a friend. It’s played indoors, outdoors, on teams or just for fun. It’s so common that people sometimes forget it IS a contact sport – that is until an injury occurs.

Collision with other players can cause jammed or broken fingers, bruises, nose injuries or even concussions. But the most common injury basketball players face can happen even if they are just shooting hoops alone – ankle injuries.

Basketball is a game of constant motion and quick direction changes. Add jumping to that mix (and the chance you’ll land on an opponent’s foot) and it’s a perfect recipe for an ankle sprain. Some people are more prone to ankle sprains than others and any severe sprain makes it more likely you’ll have another sprain in the future.

Here are some things you can do to prevent ankle sprains from basketball:

Choose the right shoe

That doesn’t necessarily mean a high-top. Players should use high, mid or low rise based on their preference and comfort. The most important things in choosing basketball shoes are that they:

  • Are closed-toe sneakers (no casual games in flip-flops)
  • Are the right size for you
  • Have sturdy, non-skid soles
  • Are securely laced at all times when playing

Consider support

Ankle stabilizers or braces have shown potential for preventing sprains in basketball players. They may be especially useful for people who have had previous sprains.

Consider balance training

The stabilizing muscles in your ankles are like any other muscle in your body – they can be strengthened over time with specific exercises. Ankle discs training have shown promise for strengthening those muscles. It’s a type of balance training used in physical therapy.

If you are concerned about your ankle stability, talk to your doctor about support and training options. As for getting the right fit of shoe, remember the points above when shopping. They are especially important for children, whose shoe sizes change so often (and sometimes quickly) to have the right size and type of shoes to use for even casual play.

Ankle sprain first aid

If you (or a loved one) do sprain your ankle, remember RICE:

  • Rest (stay off the ankle for the first 48 – 72 hours)
  • Ice for 20 minutes every 2 – 3 hours
  • Compression, such as wrapping with an ACE bandage
  • Elevation, so that the toes are above the nose
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