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This article is from the In-Depth Report The Science of Basketball

Expensive Sneakers May Twist Ankles

Those expensive sneakers you thought would cushion your feet may actually be bad for your ankles, according to a new study published in today's British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study conducted by researchers from three Australian universities found that players wearing sneakers with air cells in the heels were more than four times more likely to get ankle injuries while playing basketball. To figure this out, the scientists watched an awful lot of basketball games, sitting courtside waiting for players to hurt themselves. They then asked injured players, as well as unharmed ones, to answer questions in follow-up phone interviews. In all, they observed 10,393 people play (3,421 men, 6,972 women)¿77.9 percent of whom were recreational players. Forty people hurt their ankles, almost half of them while landing after a jump.

It turned out that a history of ankle injuries made players almost five times more likely to be injured again. And in fact, almost three quarters of those injured had been injured before, whereas only 32 percent of the unharmed players had been injured before. But wearing sneakers with air cells came in as the second leading predictor for suffering an injury: Players with air cell sneaker were 4.3 times more likely to get hurt than those wearing shoes without air cells.

So does this mean you shouldn¿t wear sneakers with air cells if you've injured your ankles in the past? There may be more to it than that, but these findings could be helpful in formulating strategies to prevent ankle injuries in basketball in the future.

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