Ankle sprains, knee injuries, foot and lower leg fractures and jammed fingers are the most common basketball injuries. In studies of basketball players five to nineteen, sprains, strains and fractures of the lower extremities, along with dislocations of the fingers, were the most common basketball injuries. Risk factors for injury include a history of past injury, improper shoe selection, and failure to stretch before practice and games4.
Not all injuries can be prevented, but good training and correct use of equipment can lower your chances to get hurt. There is not a lot of big research on injury prevention for basketball. However, guidance from organizations like the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal & Skin Disease and the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the following practices.
- Schedule are-season doctor exam with a sports medicine specialist. This is an opportunity to assess your present fitness level, detect conditions that predispose you to new injuries, and evaluate existing injuries.
- Incorporate a warm up and stretch routine before practices and games. Evidence suggests that athletes should limit stretching before exercise, and increase the warm up time.
- Use protective equipment that fits well. Wearing appropriate shoes can enhance performance and prevent injuries.
- Use braces or taping to support your ankles and knees.
- Remember to rest.Don’t play organized sports year round.Be careful when playing multiple sports with overlapping seasons. Rest is important for good health and building skills.
- Proper hydration is critical. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. You may experience fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, or more serious symptoms.
- Reduce or prevent overuse injuries with proper conditioning and strength training.Two common causes of overuse injuries are training errors and technical errors. For example, if you go too fast, exercise for too long or do too much of an activity, you can strain your muscles – that’s a training error.
Consider training programs for knee stabilization, stress fracture prevention, and improved balance. These recommendations are based on our review of current research and expert opinion. Always consult with your doctor and sports trainer before starting any training program to ensure that it is safe and correct for you to do so. Make sure that you understand the right sports training techniques and how to use the suggested equipment.
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Photo credit: Keith Allison