A Physical Therapist’s View: How Does LeBron’s Ankle Injury Impact His Season?

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is out “indefinitely” after suffering a high ankle sprain in a recent game against the Atlanta Hawks. “Indefinitely” paired with “high ankle sprain” is usually a bad sign in the sports world. However, from a performance physical therapy and performance training perspective, LeBron’s injury would likely have been much worse had it not been for his rigorous off-season training program.

A high ankle sprain occurs when there’s tearing or damage to the ligaments (known as the syndesmosis) located above the ankle. Less common than low ankle sprains, high ankle sprains caused by a sudden turning, cutting, or twisting motion. Athletes playing high-impact sports that require frequent running and jumping, such as basketball, soccer, football, and lacrosse, are at higher risk for these more severe sprains.

The average recovery for high ankle sprains can take significantly longer than typical sprains. In general, it takes roughly 6–8 weeks to fully, though it can take up to 3 months in severe cases. LeBron is expected to be out “indefinitely” as he recovers from his recent injury. However, given his intense training and recovery regime, it’s likely that he’ll be back on the court sooner than expected.

After watching the gruesome video of Solomon Hill tripping into LeBron’s ankle, it would have been easy to assume a severe injury. However, LeBron’s off-season training program may have kept his ankle sprain from becoming something more serious. Still dominant in his 18th year in the NBA, LeBron’s continued focus on training and recovery is very apparent. For the past 16 years, LeBron has worked with trainer Mike Mancias, who helped LeBron continue to dominate by focusing on nutrition, mobility, and strength training.

Most people think that strength training can prevent injuries. However, strength training often just prevents injuries from becoming more serious. It’s hard to avoid certain things from happening in a game. That said, off-season training can help prevent injuries from becoming severe.

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