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For years, basketball players were encouraged to wear high tops because it was believed they prevent a player from rolling his ankle. But recently, players such as Kobe Bryant have worn mid and low tops on the court. Is there reason to believe that one of these types of shoes is safer than any other?

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3  
Should be on skeptics. :P –  wax eagle Feb 9 '12 at 13:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Yes, high tops appear to help with ankle injuries.

A study was done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information to determine if there was a difference in ankle rotation when wearing high tops compared to wearing low tops. In the study the participants stood on a platform on one foot and the platform would be released at a random time which would turn the base of the foot by 35°. The degree and rate of ankle inversion was measured to determine the amount of stress that was being exerted on the participant's ankle. The following is the conclusion of the study:

High-top shoes reduced the amount of inversion by 4.5°, the maximum rate of inversion by 100.1°/s, and the average rate of inversion by 73.00°/s when compared with low-top shoes. Depending upon the loading conditions, subjects wearing high-top shoes may reduce their risk of ankle sprains.

Now, as to why some players prefer to play in low top shoes, this article from ESPN explains that Kobe Bryant was originally inspired by soccer players who exert similar strain on their ankles in low top shoes. According to the article, low top shoes weigh 20% less which provides the player with more energy and greater ability to change direction. Also, most professional players have their ankles taped and wrapped before each game whether they wear high tops or not which also helps with preventing ankle injury. Kobe Bryant is quoted in the article:

I've been playing basketball all my life and I've worn high-tops for a lot of those games, and I've rolled my ankle plenty wearing high-tops. If you come down on somebody's foot, you're going to roll your ankle and there's not a lot you can do about it. But to have a low, I feel like it gives your foot more freedom to change direction.

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From my personal experience I can say that High-tops are helping to prevent sprained ankles. In the past I got problems with sprained ankles during practice while wearing my Low-Tops. Since buying High-Tops I have no problems anymore.

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Please provide objective backing for your answer. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 10 '12 at 5:17
1  
The backing is my own experience, as I stated in the answer. –  MOnsDaR Feb 10 '12 at 6:39
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Please see accepted answer for an example of objectively-backed answer. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 12 '12 at 21:45
    
To necrobump, an "objectively-backed" answer can include personal experience and first-hand insight (see this answer for example). On the other hand, since the OP is asking for objective analysis regarding injury prevention between high-top and mid/low-top types of shoes, personal experience may fall short in that the sample size is one person compared to a "study." –  edmastermind29 Apr 6 '13 at 19:29
    
Nonetheless, +1 for first-hand insight. I have been rolling my ankles more often lately and may look into a high-top shoe next time around. –  edmastermind29 Apr 6 '13 at 19:29

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