Playing basketball means constant and intense impact on the feet. The form and position in which the feet land when jumping, running, falling, and coming into contact with other players affects the daily comfort and health of the feet. In fact, one study showed that up to 92% of youth basketball injuries occurred in the foot/ankle region. It's a big part of basketball culture and even fashion to have the “best” shoes. Basketball shoes in the past have had air pockets, pumps, coils, all other manner of technology to enhance performance and prevent injury. But what makes a pair of basketball shoes the best...or even good? From what we know about the structure of the foot and consequences of high impact sports, basketball shoes need to have cushioning, arch support, and alignment technology. Not all basketball shoes, even fancy ones, come with adequate insoles that provide the needed support.
Why are insoles so important for basketball?
If you want to have a long career in basketball or even be able to play basketball as a hobby while working on your feet at your day job, you need to maintain the health of your feet. Basketball players are especially prone to a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tendon that runs along the bottom length of the foot becomes inflamed. It can feel like a stabbing pain in the heel and can keep you on the bench if you plan to play basketball with this condition. Cushioning is only one part of the equation when it comes to preventing plantar fasciitis. A shoe with a big, soft footbed is not the only thing you should look for in a basketball shoe. The heel-cup of the insole as well as the shape of the arch should help to position the ankle in such a way the foot is not rolling inward or outward but is sitting in a neutral position. If the natural mechanics of the feet are not working properly, even when just walking, the plantar fascia is being strained. If those feet are then put through the rigors of a high impact sport such as basketball, chronic pain can occur.
Not ready to give up your favorite shoes?
You don’t have to give up your favorite pair of basketball shoes to get the right support. If your basketball shoes are not providing the support you need, you can add after-factory insoles to your shoes. Insoles for athletic shoes in general need to be flexible and be able to absorb shock. This is often why custom orthotics don’t work well for athletes. They can be too stiff and are not always able to handle the repeated impact of team sports. Basketball shoe insoles should not be so thick that they take up a lot of space in the shoes and make the shoes feel tight. They need to allow a full range and motion and flex with the shoe while still providing support. The insoles offered at sporting goods stores or pharmacies are usually insoles that focus only on adding cushioning. Imagine that you have a sore, aching back and your mattress is not supportive. You then add a mattress topper to help but it is only some more foam, it doesn’t actually give you the support you need. Your back will still probably be sore. Look for basketball shoe insoles with alignment technology. We suggest the Protalus T-100. This insole is thin enough to be comfortable in a basketball shoe but has patented Tri-planar technology to help keep your foot and ankle in a neutral position as you play and move. Having your ankle in alignment also helps your knees, hips, and back stay in alignment as well. Even if you aren’t the best player on the court, at least you can start with your body in the best possible form and keep it working well so you can play for years to come.