Basketball is a sport known for its high-paced action. With millions of injuries every year, it is also the sport that causes the most injuries in the entire world. The nature of the sport is such that an unexpected fall or stumble can result in a bad injury. This is one of the reasons why basketball players are generally at a higher risk of injury than football, soccer, or tennis players.
Common Basketball Injuries
In general, injuries to the lower body are far more common in basketball than injuries to the upper body. Statistics show that injuries to the lower limb account for close to 62% of the total injuries.
Ankle Sprains – This is by far the most common type of injury in the sport. Since the sport involves lots of jumping and sudden changes in movement, all of which put tremendous pressure on the tendons and ligaments in the legs, one awkward landing can result in an injury to the ankle.
Knee Injuries – The sudden changes in movement and jumps can also put a lot of pressure on your knees, which are particularly vulnerable to tears. An injury to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or MCL (medial collateral ligament) in particular can be severely painful and put you on the shelf for months.
Stress Fractures – Since the sport has become ultra competitive, players have developed the tendency to over-train and exert themselves too much, which often results in stress fractures.
Jammed Fingers – Fingers get jammed all the time in basketball. Whenever the ball comes into contact with your fingertip, while it is straight, it results in a jammed finger, a simple injury with potential symptoms of severe swelling and pain. Sometimes, however, the forceful impact on your finger could result in an acute boutonniere deformity, which is far more serious.
Face and Teeth Injuries – In a sport where flying elbows are common, sometimes unintentional and sometimes very intentional, facial cuts and cracked teeth are just part of the game.
Other than this, injuries to the shoulders, back, hand, and feet are also common in basketball.
Preventing Injuries in Basketball
So, what is the solution? While injuries are unavoidable in any sport, particularly one as physically demanding as basketball, there are certain preventative measures that can help you prevent injuries to a great extent.
Let us now take a look at the best injury prevention exercises for basketball players.
A proper warm-up can not only help you prepare for the game physically and mentally, but also reduce the risk of injuries significantly. Studies show that cold and inflexible muscles are more susceptible to injuries. During a warm-up, your heart rate goes up and blood flow increases to prepare your body for more strenuous activities. So, your muscles are in optimal condition for physically demanding activities.
Your warm-up routine should include light jogging, stationary cycling, and relaxed shooting. You should move all your joints and get the blood flow going. You should also take deep breaths and increase the oxygen flow throughout your body.
As your body warms up you need to prepare it for the demands of competition and stretching should form a part of the warm up. This is an area of debate in sports medicine and current thinking leans towards dynamic stretching. You could include drills like lunges, running with high knees, heels to bum, and cariocas in your dynamic stretching routine. Generally, it is beneficial to add movements to your routine that resemble the kind of movements required in the sport and in basketball the legs need equal attention to the trunk and arms.
After a good general warm up it’s a great idea to perform stretches that involve repetitive movements, near to but not too close to the limits of your flexibility. These stretches should be dynamic and involve constant movement. This serves to make the joints, muscle, nerves and connective tissue as mobile as possible.
One of the areas where the game has evolved a lot is the use of protective gear. Unlike players from the previous generations, the current generation of players has access to some of the best and highest quality protective gear. Ideally, you need a pair of shoes with shock absorbers, thigh pads, and a custom-fit mouth guard. If you have a history of injuries, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor or physiotherapist and see if you can get customized bracing or protective gear to lower the risk of serious injuries.
Since basketball is a very demanding sport, you need to be in peak condition before each game. Proper training is the only way to make sure your body is in optimal condition every time you step on the court. A carefully formulated routine which includes cardio, plyometrics, weight training, and breathing exercises is absolutely essential to ensure your physical fitness throughout the playing season.
While training is essential, overtraining can take a toll on your body and should be avoided at all costs. Excessive training puts your body through the wringer and makes you vulnerable to all sorts of injuries. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why many athletes get injured and burned out even while they are in their prime. So, follow the instructions of your coach or fitness trainer and train safe.
Rest and Recuperation
Resting is necessary for your body to recover from minor injuries and rejuvenate the sore muscles and joints. If you train and play without inadequate rest, you are far more likely to sustain injuries than you otherwise would.
Eating the right kind of diet is also necessary for the prevention of injuries. Your diet should be high in protein, which helps you build muscles, and carbohydrate, which helps you fuel your muscles, along with fats, essential vitamins, and minerals. You should take the advice of a qualified dietician or nutritionist, who can formulate a diet that meets your body’s needs.
The aforementioned suggestions should help you avoid injuries to a large extent. Apart from this, a thorough biomechanical analysis can identify potential injury risks. Periodic check-ups and assessments by your sports therapist are also essential to identify possible injury threats and deal with them accordingly.