Nothing ruins a basketball season quicker than an injury like an ankle sprain or an ACL tear. Here are five tips from Nicole McDevitt, a physical therapist at DMOS Orthopaedic Centers, to help prevent injuries when playing basketball.
1. Wearing Appropriate Shoes and Gear
Before you take the court it is important to ensure you have supportive shoes with excellent traction. Shoes with poor traction cause you to skid and slid across the floor and increase the chance of injury to your joints.
If you have previously injured your ankle, you may want to consider wearing high ankle shoes and/or ankle braces to help reduce the risk of re-injury. Continuing to build your ankle and hip strength as well as balance will also help minimize your chance of injuring yourself.
2. Warm-up and Cool-down
Warming up before a game or practice helps stretch your muscles and increases your heart rate. McDevitt recommends starting with a dynamic warm-up with drills including walking lunges, knees to chest, hamstring curls as well as straight leg kicks.
After you are finished on the court, it is essential to perform cool-down stretches to reduce muscle tightness. Areas to focus on include your hamstring, calf, hip flexor (a group of muscles towards the front of your hip), thigh and glutes.
Like any physical activity staying hydrated when playing basketball helps prevent injury and maintains performance. Sweating is the primary way the body cools itself. Without adequate hydration, you will not sweat as much which prevents your body from cooling down and increases your chance of heat exhaustion.
4. Cardio and Endurance Training
During a basketball game, the majority of injuries occur during the second half indicating fatigue has set in. Cardio training raises your heart rate and helps strengthen your heart and lungs. While endurance training involves exercises that increase a person’s endurance which is extremely useful on the basketball court. The combination of cardio and endurance training will decrease your likelihood of injury.
5. Strengthening Program
Ankle and knee injuries are the most common basketball injuries and strengthening programs help combat these injuries. Hip and ankle strengthening, as well as balance and stabilization help, protect the ankle from injury. Being aware of your surroundings and proprioception will also help reduce falls or landing on your ankle the wrong way.
Building your hip, ankle and knee strength will reduce the risk of ligament sprains such as ACL, MCL, meniscal and other knee injuries. Excellent stability in your ankle improves your knee stability as well as reduces the amount of stress placed on the joint. Your core control and strength also ensures a stable base for your legs and arms to function.