Basketball is a demanding sport requiring great athleticism and elite fitness at the highest levels. It is also great fun for the weekend or Wednesday night warrior who enjoys throwing some hoops for a local team.
One of the great problems basketballers at all levels face is that the continued demands of the sport particularly associated with repeated jumping, running and rapid changes of direction result in frequent injury.
Injuries to feet, ankles, calves, knees and hips are commonplace amongst basketball players, with foot and ankle injuries being the most common. The rate of injuries to a basketballers feet and ankles far exceeds the rate of injury for other sports people. This is no doubt due to the combination of the court surface and the regular repetition and the explosive nature of the activities required to play basketball.
Traditionally basketball-training staff have attempted to cope with feet and ankles injury risks by taping or strapping. While this approach has had some success, it is by no means foolproof and many athletes find the strapping or taping to be uncomfortable or inconvenient.
A better solution is for basketball players to use custom orthotic devices. The practice has been shown to provide significant benefits at the elite level.
A study by Duke University In 2006 focused on 26 players and provided them with custom-made orthotics. Statistics from a variety of sources indicate that in normal circumstances between 4 and 5 players would have suffered some form of stress related injury to the foot or ankle area.
In this case only one player was found to suffer from a stress related foot injury during the study period and this particular player had already sustained a stress fracture prior to the study being completed. The results were widely advertised at the time but many basketball teams and players remain unaware of the potential benefits of using custom-made orthotics.
While one study does not conclusively prove one way or the other that orthotics are effective, anecdotal evidence from many trainers and coaches in the field suggest that the use of custom orthotics is helpful in reducing the risk of injury. Team podiatrist for the Indiana Pacers, Patrick De Heer is adamant that orthotics have a positive effect and he makes a strong case for their use.
According to De Heer, using custom orthotics is an effective way of limiting the risk of injury as the orthotics acts as a shock absorber, while simultaneously providing mid foot support and control of the hind foot. Given the nature of the sport, a soft off the shelf insole has predictably found to be inadequate in performing these roles.
The solution it would seem would be to use a semi-rigid orthotic device made from material such as polypropylene or graphite combined with multiple layers of material that can cope with and absorb the stresses that a basketballer’s feet and ankles are usually subjected to.
Sport is a high performance activity and basketball is explosive in nature. Simply purchasing an over-the-counter pair of insoles is not going to help to guard against lower limb injury and may even accentuate potential injury.
It is therefore wise for basketballers looking to take advantage of the benefits of orthotic devices should investigate custom-made orthotics.
As the name suggests, custom made orthotics are custom built medical devices designed to correct people’s unique biomechanical misalignments to give them better balance and maintain better foot and leg alignment.
Advantages of Custom Orthotics
- They help you get a better spring in your foot so you can jump and run easier by stabilising your ankle joint movements from moving outside the optimal range which is slowing you down.
- Materials including Carbon Fibre and Polypropelene are used in different ways to deliver an orthotic that will be individually tailored to your specific needs.
- Custom made orthotics can last years due to the materials used so they are the ultimate long-term solution.
If you are a basketball player and particularly one who is already experiencing some discomfort it could be well worth your while to make an appointment with a podiatrist and discuss the benefits of custom made orthotics.
Using custom made orthotics will help you to cushion your feet, muscles and joints against the shock and strain of constant running jumping twisting and turning. Wearing properly made custom orthotics designed for your feet will help you to play basketball longer and harder and enjoy it even more than you do now.