The Running Doctor: Shoes a key for healthy tournament

The 2021 NCAA DI men's basketball tournament will be in Indiana this year, with most games being played in Indianapolis. The schedule will run until the NCAA championship game at 9 p.m. on Monday, April 5th.

After many years of working with basketball players and their injuries, I have become concerned with the trend toward lower cut, lighter and softer basketball shoes. There are different trends in basketball shoes and styles every year. It will be interesting to see who is wearing the high-top vs the lower cut. The lower cut is meant to increase the speed of performance on the court, yet with this type of shoe, there is less stability and therefore higher risk of injury. The most common basketball injuries are in the lower extremities, especially the ankle sprain. Many of the sudden, forceful side to side moves create these injuries. Worse yet, is when a player lands on another player’s foot or the ankle rolls too far outward. As this mechanism of action occurs, the ligaments are stretched or torn.

The biggest mistake of many players is to try to play through the injury. This can increase the extent of injury. If it is treated as a mild injury or sprain, immobilization will be helpful, but if the muscles and ligaments are not strong enough to prevent you from walking without pain, it is possible that a surgical repair would be needed.

It is of the utmost importance to pick the right shoe that will protect you from injuries. But it must be realized that it is what is inside the shoe that counts. Today manufacturers are putting inserts into most athletic shoes. Some of us need additional balance and support from custom made biomechanically designed inserts. They will not only help to protect against injuries in the foot and ankle, but also the knee, hip, and lower back.

Dr.Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist. He was a former member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss is a veteran of 35 marathons. For more information go to