Another NBA season starts this week, and high school and college basketball are ramping up across the country. I thought it would be a good time to discuss ways to prevent basketball injury and keep basketball players safe and healthy.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States at both the youth and high school levels. Plus many adults play basketball recreationally.
Unfortunately, many surveillance studies comparing injuries in all sports show basketball close to the top in terms of numbers and rates of injuries for both boys’ and girls’ basketball.
It would be impossible to completely eliminate the risk of all injuries in basketball. Here are some ideas that could help players avoid injuries.
Basketball injury tip #1: Decrease ankle injuries.
The ankle is the most commonly injured body part in basketball, and ankle sprains are the most common specific injury. In a sport where players jump frequently and land on other players’ feet occasionally, inversion injuries to the ankle can occur.
Many experts advocate that athletes learn a neuromuscular exercise program to try to decrease the risk of ankle sprains. These programs consist of exercises that try to aid in range of motion, dynamic muscular stability, balance, and more. Performed daily, these exercises can help players with a history of ankle sprains and those who have never sprained their ankles before.
Lace-up braces might prevent ankle injuries
Preventative ankle taping is a more controversial idea. A recent study suggested that lace-up ankle braces could decrease the risk of ankle sprains. It remains to be seen if the lace-up braces increase the risk of injuries to other body parts by limiting movement in the ankle. They are at least an option worth considering for someone prone to ankle instability.
Basketball injury tip #2: Decrease ACL injuries.
An ACL tear is a devastating injury for any athlete. In order for a basketball player to return to competitive basketball,
she would almost certainly need to undergo knee surgery and months of physical therapy. Since it is an injury that afflicts female athletes even more than males, all basketball players should at least consider programs to prevent them.
Many studies have examined the effectiveness of the programs at preventing ACL tears. Some show significant decreases in ACL injuries among players who perform the exercises daily, while others only show slight decreases.
Regardless, 10 or 15 minutes of fairly simple exercises is a pretty low price to pay to possibly avoid this season-ending injury. These programs have been designed to also try to prevent other lower extremity injuries, like ankle sprains (above) and hip injuries.
Basketball injury tip #3: Decrease overuse injuries.
Basketball requires jumping and constant running for months on end. It is no surprise that athletes suffer overuse injuries – like patellar tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and more – related to these stresses.
It is important to try to protect against the wear and tear basketball can generate. Taking a day or two off per week and cross training or resting can decrease some of the stress on the knees, ankles, and feet. Even more importantly, when pain starts to bother a player, she should see her team’s athletic trainer or an orthopaedic surgeon to see if there are simple remedies that can get her back on the court quickly without allowing the problem to progress.
Tips to prevent youth basketball injuries