General | May 23, 2023

Do High-Top Basketball Shoes Really Prevent Ankle Sprains?

Avram Baldoria-PHYSIOTHERAPIST-Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy

Basketball is a sport that requires players to make quick lateral movements, jump, and land frequently. These actions put a significant amount of stress on the lower extremities, and ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries that basketball players experience. To prevent such injuries, players often wear high-top shoes as they are believed to provide ankle support. However, recent research has shown that high-top shoes may not necessarily prevent ankle sprains. In this blog, we will discuss why high-top shoes do not always prevent ankle sprains in basketball. 

Firstly, it is important to understand the mechanism of ankle sprains. An ankle sprain occurs when the foot rolls inwards (inversion sprain), causing the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch or tear. While high-top shoes may provide some support to the ankle, they cannot completely prevent the foot from rolling inwards. In fact, a study conducted by Robbins et al. found that high-top shoes do not significantly reduce the risk of ankle sprains when compared to low-top shoes (Robbins, Waked, & Rappel, 1995). 

Secondly, it has been suggested that high-top shoes may even increase the risk of ankle sprains. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that players who wore high-top shoes were more likely to experience ankle sprains than those who wore low-top shoes (McGuine, Greene, Best, & Leverson, 2000). The authors of the study suggest that this may be because high-top shoes restrict the range of motion of the ankle, leading to compensatory movements in other joints that may increase the risk of injury. 

Lastly, it is important to consider the individual player’s risk factors for ankle sprains. Factors such as previous ankle injuries, ankle stability, and foot morphology can all contribute to an increased risk of ankle sprains. While high-top shoes may provide some support to players with weaker ankles or previous ankle injuries, they may not be effective in preventing ankle sprains in players who are at a higher risk due to other factors. In fact, over the last decade, numerous NBA players have sported low-cut basketball shoes. Notable names like Kobe Bryant, whose signature line has gained popularity among players and fans, and Steph Curry, a player with a notable history of ankle injuries made the switch from high-top to low-top, and focused on strengthening and balance exercises to reduce the occurrence of ankle injuries. 

While high-top shoes may provide some support to the ankle, they do not necessarily prevent ankle sprains in basketball players. In fact, they may even increase the risk of ankle sprains in some players. Therefore, it is important for players to focus on strengthening the muscles around the ankle, improving their balance, and wearing shoes that fit well and are appropriate for their individual needs. 


  1. McGuine, T. A., Greene, J. J., Best, T., & Leverson, G. (2000). Balance as a predictor of ankle injuries in high school basketball players. Journal of Athletic Training, 35(2), 168–173. 
  2. Robbins, S., Waked, E., & Rappel, R. (1995). Ankle taping improves proprioception before and after exercise in young men. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 29(4), 242–247. 
  3. Verhagen, E., van der Beek, A., Twisk, J., Bouter, L., & Bahr, R. (2004). The effect of a proprioceptive balance board training program for the prevention of ankle sprains: a prospective controlled trial. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(6), 1385–1393. 
  4. Wikstrom, E. A., Tillman, M. D., & Borsa, P. A. (2006). Detection of dynamic stability deficits in subjects with functional ankle instability. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(4), 627–633.