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What are Basketball Injuries?

Basketball is a very popular sport that involves intermittent bursts of running with unpredictable stops and starts, pivoting movements, dribbling the ball, passing the basketball, and contact with other players when shooting or defending the basket. The acute and chronic injuries that occur due to the highly physical nature of the sport are known as basketball injuries.  

Common Basketball Injuries

Some of the common basketball injuries include: 

Foot and Ankle Injuries:  These can include the following:

  • Ankle sprains from rolling on the ankle
  • Avulsion fractures when an overextended ligament or tendon pulls off a small piece of bone
  • Achilles tendonitis or rupture - an overuse injury that affects the tendon at the back of the ankle
  • Plantar fasciitis - an overuse injury from excessive running on the basketball court
  • Jones fracture - a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone on the outside of the foot      

Knee Ligament Injuries: A direct blow to the knee, performing cutting maneuvers or landing awkwardly from a jump can result in tearing of the ligaments that surround and support the knee joint. 

Deep Thigh Bruises: These injuries can occur when another player’s knee or elbow inadvertently strikes the thigh muscle. Treatment will involve the application of ice and rest. Depending on the severity of the injury, full recovery may take 4-8 weeks.  

Hamstring Strain: This type of injury occurs as a result of muscle overload from jumping, rebounding, or running that causes over-stretching of the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh. Hamstring injuries are usually caused by not warming up and stretching the muscles properly before a game.

Jammed Fingers: This injury occurs when the basketball forcefully strikes an extended finger when a player attempts to catch the ball or prevent it from going into the basket. It can result in tearing of the finger ligaments. 

Head and Face Injuries: These injuries can occur from bumping heads with another player or being accidentally hit in the face by an elbow or another body part. Facial lacerations may require stitches depending on their depth. Players experiencing loss of consciousness, confusion, or altered vision, balance or sensation due to a blow to the head need to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

Preventing Basketball Injuries

The risks of sustaining an injury while playing basketball can be significantly reduced by taking the following precautions:

  • Wear comfortable, snug-fitting basketball shoes that are non-skid and have high tops to provide shock absorption and adequate support for your feet and ankles.  
  • Muscle and joint injuries can be prevented by adequate warm-up and stretching of the joints before each game or training session.
  • Deep thigh bruises and knee injuries can be prevented by wearing thigh pads, knee pads or compression sleeves that lessen the effect of impact to the thigh and knee joint.
  • Protect against head and face injuries by always being aware of the players in your vicinity and wearing mouth guards.
  • Understand how the ball moves and learn proper catching and throwing techniques to reduce the risk of finger, hand, and wrist injuries.
  • Exercising regularly in the off-season and getting a physical checkup just before the season ensures you are fit enough to play. 
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