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Common Basketball Injuries & What You Can Do to Prevent Them

There isn’t a high amount of contact between players in basketball as there is in football and hockey, but there is still a risk of injury. Basketball is a very fast-paced game, and players don’t wear as much protective gear as football and hockey players. Let’s look at some of the more common injuries in basketball and what you can do to prevent them.

Common Basketball Injuries

1. Knee Injuries

Basketball involves a lot of stop-and-go motion and maneuvers, which puts stress on the knees. It is common for basketball players to have injuries to the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), or the meniscus in the knee. In some cases, the injury may be a sprain, or in some cases the meniscus or ligament may tear and require surgery to repair it. This is the case with Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets; the team recently announced that Walker will be undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

2. Ankle Injuries

Ankle sprains are also very common among basketball players. Ankle sprains can happen if the ankle rolls or is twisted beyond the normal range of motion while playing. In more mild cases, the ligaments in the ankle are stretched, and it may be painful and require rest while the injury heals. In more severe cases, the ligaments may tear partially or completely, requiring a longer period of rest and possibly surgery to repair the tear. Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been in the news lately because of a severe ankle sprain that has sidelined him for weeks.

3. Shoulder Injuries

Most shoulder injuries in basketball occur as the result of overuse. The rotator cuff tendons can become irritated or tear. The bursa, which helps to lubricate the shoulder, can also become inflamed and painful. Most notably, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers recently tore his rotator cuff during a game and will likely miss the rest of the season to have surgery.

4. Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are an overuse injury that occurs when the muscles are tired and can no longer absorb all of the shock. The additional stress gets transferred to the bone, where small cracks called stress fractures can form. Stress fractures often occur in the lower leg and foot, but may also occur in the spine.

5. Back and Neck Injuries

Aside from stress fractures, common back and neck injuries among basketball players include muscle sprains and strains and herniated discs. You may recall that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers missed 8 games beginning in early January due to lower back strains and a knee injury.

Preventing Basketball Injuries

In competitive sports, injuries do happen, but you can take steps to reduce your risk of injuries.

  • Stay in good shape year-round. Keep up a balanced fitness routine even in the off-season. If you are out of shape at the start of the next season, you increase your risk of injury.
  • Always warm up first. Cold muscles are more prone to injury, so it’s important to take the time to warm up and stretch before every game and practice.
  • Use the right techniques and equipment. The rules are put in place to keep you and other players safe. Properly-fitted equipment can also reduce your risk of injuries.
  • If you do hurt yourself, stop playing and get checked out. Kobe Bryant may have continued to play with a torn rotator cuff, but that doesn’t mean you should. Playing with an injury only increases your risk of further injury. It’s disappointing to have to sit on the sidelines, but it’s the better choice in the long run.

Whether you play competitively or casually, it’s worth taking the extra time to prepare yourself so you can reduce your risk of injury. If you do get injured, always seek proper medical treatment and follow your doctor’s instructions so you can return to the game safely.