If you want to prevent basketball injuries, wear basketball shoes that fit perfectly to your feet. Make sure that your shoes don’t wiggle when you run with them.
Also, check the outer sole of the shoe. The wider it is from your feet, the more likely it prevents your ankle from rolling, keeping you from getting injured.
For basketball shoes, high tops are preferred by most basketball players. But many shoes that were developed with new technology have been released in low tops.
According to researchers, the shoe’s traction is super important, as it helps avoid basketball injuries more.
What are the common injuries in basketball?
The common injuries in basketball are ankle sprains and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear (1). The ACL is a key ligament in your knees that stabilizes your knee joints.
Without the ligament in your knees, pain will be felt in your knees every time you put weight on your legs. Mostly, tall people get leg injuries because of their size.
Ankle sprains are common because of the high probability of landing on someone else’s foot when you descend on your jump.
If your foot lands awkwardly on the side of someone’s foot, your foot tends to roll to the side, and your ankle is unable to hold it together. Therefore, your ankle gets swollen due to the sudden pressure of the fall.
Meanwhile, ACLs are common in basketball because it couldn’t handle the constant pressure of using your knees for jumping, running, and sudden stops.
One reason for an ACL tear is landing awkwardly with your weight distributed unevenly. You land with your legs unbalanced and unable to sustain your body weight.
Another reason is wear and tear. You keep on using force on your knees in basketball, eventually taking its toll on your joints.
The five most common injuries in basketball (4) are the following:
- Ankle or foot injuries – sprained ankle, Achilles tendinitis
- Knee injuries – ACL tear, meniscus tear
- Hip injuries – hip sprain, pulled groin
- Wrist injuries – sprained wrist, broken wrist
- Head injuries – concussion, broken orbital
How can common injuries be prevented?
Prevention is better than cure. To avoid injuries, make sure you take preventive measures before stepping on the hardcourt.
It could be a pre-existing injury, or maybe something that you haven’t experienced before. The important thing is to ensure proper safety precautions when partaking in any sporting activity, particularly basketball.
There are a few ways on how to prevent common injuries in basketball (2).
1. Wear the right sports gear
When working out in the gym, you can’t wear running shoes in the weight room for heavy lifting or plyometrics.
Running shoes are built for linear forward movements. Moving laterally would make your ankles roll or your knees buckle.
If you’re not sure about what to wear when training, ask for any advice from your medical staff.
Another example is wearing joint braces that are too tight. If you don’t need any protective gear, keep it that way.
Wearing such gear would make your body dependent on it every time you move in the gym.
Protective gears are used by people with pre-existing injuries, especially in the joints.
2. Strengthen your muscles
Thanks to science and research, athletes today have benefitted from the importance of strength and conditioning in sports.
Back in the day, weight training was the only known way to strengthen your body. The drawback of such a method is that it makes your body heavier, and not everyone is naturally muscular.
Weight training could make you strong, but it also regresses your athleticism in more ways than one.
The best remedy is sport-specific strength and conditioning. It involves movements used in basketball.
There are some muscles utilized more in basketball than in any other sport or function. One of the most sought-after conditioning techniques is to strengthen your base to avoid getting pushed easily inside.
Another exercise is to improve your jumping ability. With the right strength and conditioning program, you’ll be able to avoid injuries by 50 percent.
It doesn’t matter how young or strong you are. Keep this in mind: recovery is part of the training.
If you’re young and play as a varsity, your tendency is to keep going because you feel invincible.
Little do you know that you’re gradually breaking your body down until it cannot handle the pressure anymore.
Once you get older, you will realize how much rest you needed when you had the chance.
It’s okay to work hard. But it’s better to work smart. Like working out in the gym, your arms may look swollen after pumping iron.
But it’s when you’re resting in bed that the muscles actually start to grow.
4. Increased flexibility
Flexibility is one of the more overlooked aspects of training. Especially with men.
Men focus on either strength, speed, or stamina. However, the lack of flexibility limits the body’s range of motion.
Therefore, one unintended movement on the basketball court could prove to be disastrous to your body.
Either you will pull your muscles, or you won’t keep your balance, leading to potential joint injuries on your knees or even your hips.
Your body’s inability to adjust to certain movements might lead you to injury. If you’re flexible enough, you could be fine.
You’ll be able to handle any sudden movements that require your instinct to swiftly change your position.
5. Stay technical and fundamental
Here’s another mistake that young players commonly make. They learn the fundamental skills at an early age, and technical skills a few years after.
From there, they tend to practice the more advanced moves. They feel bored whenever they practice basic fundamental drills.
Please don’t make this mistake if you’re just starting. Any great basketball player will tell you to always stick to the basics.
The advanced moves you see on television are actually products of staying fundamentally sound.
In fact, there are only two moves necessary in basketball. Go to the left, and to the right.
If the defense goes left, you go right. And vice versa. Simple, but effective. Plus, it will help focus your training and prevent injuries.
6. Listen to your body
Only you can determine if your body can still take it on the hardwood floor.
Sometimes, playing could get rough. As an athlete, you also get competitive at times. And sometimes, this competitiveness gets the most out of you. In the end, you could get hurt because of your pride.
This is why it’s very important to listen to your body. If your hips or your knees start to bother you, don’t hesitate to rest.
If your shoulders get sore, maybe you need to approach your therapist or conditioning coach and ask for help on how to avoid further injuries.
Doctors can only assume if they don’t know the intensity of your activity and level of pain.
7. Don’t play through the pain
On a regular basis, we see professional basketball players play through the pain. But they get paid millions of dollars to do so. And, that’s their job.
It might seem very noble to see professional basketball players gut it out in the middle of the battle.
If you’re not a professional athlete, it’s best not to play through the pain. You will pay for your own medical procedures, and it might hinder you from performing in your actual jobs.
You know, the jobs where they pay you for what you’re worth as a professional in a different industry.
If you are going for the pro-level as basketballer, it’s also a poor long-term strategy to wear yourself down. It will come back and haunt you later in your career.
8. Warm-up and Stretch!
One can’t emphasize this enough; warming up and stretching dynamically before the game is very crucial in preventing injuries.
This is a basic concept but most players either neglect it or don’t take it seriously. If you’re reading this, please stretch and warm-up.
How can minor injuries be prevented?
While common injuries are preventable, we often overlook the minor injuries.
Usually, minor injuries in basketball such as finger dislocations or wrist discomfort aren’t given that much attention, compared to ACL tears or ankle sprains.
However, these minor injuries should be given the same attention as any other basketball injuries.
Minor injuries can cause an imbalance in your posture or stride (3). With that said, the other parts of your body tend to compensate for this imbalance, therefore bearing the brunt of the force.
This causes new injuries because of your body’s instinct to take caution for these minor injuries. Just like how you prevent common injuries from happening, you should also take preventive measures for minor injuries.
The usual minor injuries in basketball are small cuts, hip discomfort, and strained calf.
- Small cuts occur when you accidentally bump into your opponent, causing your skin to rupture slightly.
- Hip discomforts happen due to constant contact inside the paint.
- Strained calves are experienced due to the lack of dynamic stretching before the game.
The same steps for preventing common injuries can be followed to prevent minor injuries. Despite the smaller risk, the same precautionary measures should taken.
A small injury untreated will turn into a major one over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the body’s signals.
Train well, warm up, stretch, strengthen your muscles and ligaments—and let your body recover from practice to practice.