Do High-Top Basketball Shoes Prevent Ankle Sprains?

Basketball is one of the most widely watched and talked about sports worldwide. One thing I have deduced from all those sports discussions I have seen happening amongst my basketball fanatic friends is that shoes play a vital role in a player’s performance. There are many sports shoes, and if you’re interested in knowing which are the best, read on.

As trivial as it may sound, shoes can play a crucial role in a player’s performance. The kind of technology used in high-top sneakers is ideal for preventing ankle sprains in players.

There are a total of 5 kinds of basketball shoes:

  • High-top sneakers
  • Mid-top sneakers
  • Low-top sneakers
  • Performance sneakers
  • Outdoor basketball sneakers

What Shoes Prevent Ankle Sprains?

Sports like basketball require players to run and jump for most of their duration. Since ankles facilitate such movements, they’re at high risk for sprains, twists, and fractures. In fact, at some point, such injuries are inevitable. Therefore, shoes specifically designed to support the ankles and prevent them from sprains, like high-top sneakers, are ideal.

Do High-Top Shoes Weaken Ankles?

High-top shoes are a great piece of style, but their overuse might lead to weak ankles. It is only natural to move your feet around at all angles. Stuffing extra foam or even extra stitches in the shoe to save the ankle from breaking might backfire in the long run.

Studies suggest that wearing high tops can induce a delayed reaction timing of the evertor muscles (fibularis Longus) and may therefore have a detrimental effect on the foot and ankle joint complex function. Hence, when it comes to our feet, the best way to prevent such injuries is to target the muscle through exercise. This will ensure better muscle strength and prepare it to endure greater pressures.

Do High-Top Shoes Hurt Your Ankles?

This is an ongoing debate that divides two sets of opinions. While one school of thought believes they provide support to the ankles and prevent injuries, the others don’t agree. Numerous studies have been held to address this concern. High tops are believed to delay the muscle’s reaction to an ankle turn, likely to lead to a sprain.

Overuse of shoes like high-tops that keep the ankles covered and cushioned at all times can weaken them and lead to redundancy if these muscles are not used much. Thus, while there is no question that they provide excellent support to the ankles, the downside is that constant muscle support may hurt them over time. They make them too weak to fend for themselves when the situation arises.

Do High-Top Shoes Prevent Ankle Injuries?

High-top shoes are specifically designed in a way that they act as shock absorbers for the ankles. They are especially ideal for players in the front line, and most of the game requires them to take high jumps. For such players, usually, the choice of shoes is high-tops. The NBA player Stephen Curry, who has had several ankle injuries in the past, swears by a good high-top shoe to prevent such incidents.

In collaboration with Nike, Michael Jordan came out with a line of basketball sneakers, Air Jordans. While he has sported many types of sneakers to his games, one of his favorites remains the Air Jordan 13s retro high-top sneakers.

Do High-Top Shoes Help With Ankle Support?

This is a running argument that cuts both ends. Studies have been carried out on whether or not high-tops help with ankle support. Conventional logic suggests that owing to the design technologies and the fact that they are laced up above the ankles, high-tops provide support to the ankles.

However, most modern studies suggest that low tops are also easily wearable in basketball without the risk of injuries. If the high-top prevents the ankle from injury during an unfortunate ankle roll or twist, it might cause the pressure to transfer up to the knee through the tibia and fibula muscles and cause a strain. In any case, a strain is bound to happen.

Are High-Tops Or Low-Tops Better For Your Ankles?

There is no consensus over which type supersedes the other. While high tops are widely believed to be good at ankle support and prevent injuries, no science backs it. The con with high-tops is that they are heavy shoes and restrict movement. So they tend to restrict a player’s fast action and quick movement when a situation arises.

That is where low-tops come in handy. Compared to high-tops, the dorsiflexion angle between the foot and ground is low in low-tops which ensures freedom of ankle movement. This is why we can see so many NBA players shifting from high-top sneakers to low-top ones in the recent past.

High-top sneakers were almost synonymous with basketball for over 40 years before Kobe Bryant went ahead to buck the trend in 2008. He sported low tops that year in the tournament and even won the league. This proved that low tops are easily wearable during basketball. Many players followed his lead and ditched high tops for low ones.

Therefore it comes down to a matter of preference. Players looking for more ankle support go with high-tops, whereas players who desire freedom of movement choose to wear low-tops to the game.

Related Questions

Are High-Tops Good For Outdoor Basketball?

Outdoor basketball means uneven grounds and commonly hotter temperatures. So, when looking for appropriate footwear for such locations, the quality you are looking for is airy build and ease of movement. Since high-tops are infamous for restricting movement, they would make a wrong choice for outdoor basketball. Mid-tops and low-tops would be your best bet for such conditions.

Are High Tops Good For Flat Feet?

High tops are an excellent choice of shoes for players with flat feet. The support they provide is ideal in such exceptional cases. A perfect example is the Nike Lebron 19, a high-top shoe. It contains a sizable zoom air in the cushion, and the midsole is a full-length cushion, providing impact protection during touchdown.

Are High Tops Good For Wide Feet?

The fit and comfort provided by a shoe for a player are enough to boost his confidence. For a player with wide feet, high tops are ideal. The high-top design is convenient in this case for the ankle support and injury prevention it provides. Hence proving to be a comfortable shoe for players with wide feet.  


  • Although there is no foolproof way to prevent ankle injuries, high tops are a good place to start.
  • Shoes are merely a matter of preference for players; different shoes serve different needs.
  • High tops make an excellent choice of footwear in exceptional cases like wide or flat feet.
  • The downside of high tops is that they limit movement and delay the reaction time of evertor muscles.
  • High tops may weaken ankles if used regularly.
  • The game quality ultimately depends more upon a player’s tactics than the type of shoes they use.

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