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Basketball Injury Therapy 101

Like in any other sport, basketball players are prone to injury. Every time you walk into the court and regardless of your level of preparedness and preventive measures, you face a high risk of injury.

Basketball is an exciting, high-intensity sport that requires tenacity, agility, and speed. It can be defined as a vertical sport with lots of landing and jumping activity.

As such, you can get acute injuries due to repetition, force, or sudden impact that causes overuse to some parts of their bodies. Likewise, hard court surfaces and rapid motions increase the likelihood of suffering from traumatic knee injuries due to falls, trips, and slips.

In basketball, therapists play a major role in creating endurance programs that help the body tissues build endurance and strength, thus decreasing the risks of injuries.

Understanding Basketball Injuries

Certain injuries can impact your performance and overall game success, and they include:

MCL and ACL injuries

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a ligament that connects your shinbone (tibia) and thigh bone (femur), thus stabilizing the knee joint.

An ACL injury often happens when a player suddenly changes direction or stops playing, resulting in tearing and stretching of the knee tissues.

In contrast, the MCL (medial collateral ligament) refers to a band of tissues located inside your knee, and it connects your lower leg to the thigh bone. MCL injuries occur when a player hits the side of their knee hard, often during a collision with other players.

Treatment for ACL and MCL may include both surgical and non-surgical interventions, depending on the severity of the injury.

For a non-surgical intervention, a player may receive protective bracing to help in muscle strengthening. The goal is to naturally stabilize the knees by developing the hamstring and quadriceps muscles.

Thigh and Hip Contusions

Thigh, hip, and pelvis injuries are quite common in basketball players.

The thigh and hip contusions occur due to sudden force caused by player-to-player contact or falls. This causes significant damage to the quadriceps muscle tissue.

Treatment for hip and thigh contusions may include ice treatment and strength training.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains in basketball are caused by loss of balance or overextension when the player is moving quickly. Additionally, ankle injuries may also occur when a player slows down, lands after jumping, or pivots.

The ankle may roll outwards during an ankle sprain injury, causing the ligament that connects it to the bones to tear and stretch. Such injury may be as minor as just stretching or major, causing a complex tear.

The treatment may include surgically restoring the torn knee ligament, rest, compression, ice, and/or elevation.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

The Patellofemoral pain syndrome is the pain that occurs around the kneecap and knee front. It happens due to increased training volume or intensity, thus putting repeated pressure on the knee, leading to pain.

Basketball players with fragile thighs, tight hamstrings and hip muscles have a higher risk of developing patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Treatment may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, ice treatment, support braces or straps, and stretching the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.

Fractured Kneecaps

Knee fractures happen when the knee is placed in a semi-flexed position when a player falls directly onto their kneecap. This causes the injured player to feel the pain behind their kneecap at the location where the thigh bone meets the knee.

The pain occurs due to excessive joint pressure and poor kneecap alignment.

Non-surgical treatment involves applying a splint or cast to tighten the knee and prevent motion, thus keeping the broken bone ends in the proper position as they heal.

Spinal Injuries

Basketball being a fast-paced and intensive sport, can cause extreme awkward landings, falls, and contortions, leading to a high risk of spinal injuries.

A spinal injury occurs when the back or neck of a player receives a blow causing the vertebrae or bone to dislocate, compress, or fracture. For treatment, a player may receive a brace or collar. Extensive spinal injuries may require surgery to remove bones or tissues pushing down the spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries, depending on their severity, can completely change your life. However, before filing a lawsuit for a spinal cord injury, consult a qualified and experienced legal team for advice.

Finger Injuries

Finger injuries occur when the ball strikes your hand, fracturing or jamming one or more fingers. This can be treated by splinting or buddy taping. However, serious finger injuries may need surgical repair to restore full function.

Basketball Injury Therapy

Following injury, the soft tissues and the scar tissues can contract leading to limited motion and stiffness.

The physical therapist will design treatment to address your specific needs.

Most of the basketball injury therapy includes conditioning, strengthening, and stretching.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises help in improving flexibility and they include;

  • Squatting leg-out groin
  • Adductor stretch and side stretch
  • Rotating stomach
  • Achilles stretch and single heel-drop calf

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy or “hands-on” treatment works well on underperforming ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints.

It involves manipulating and kneading the joints, muscle stretching, and joint mobilization. Passive movements of the soft tissues, and other painful and sore areas help to increase circulation, decrease pain, relax muscles and reduce scar tissue.

Additionally, this therapy may also include specific tissue techniques to help improve the functioning and mobility of nerves, tissues, and muscles.

Basketball Specific Training

Basketball training is specifically tailored for each player to help maximize the player’s tactical development and skills, thus preparing them to return to the sport.

Core Stability and Strengthening

This therapy helps provide a strong core and foundation for a player’s overall movement, thus decreasing the risks associated with re-injury.

Final Thoughts

Basketball demands endurance and high-level athleticism. Avoiding basketball injuries may not be fully possible but you can significantly reduce the risk with good warming up, becoming aware of your body, and stretching frequently.

In case of basketball injuries, following the above injury therapy treatments will help your body to return to a great condition, ready to maximize your sporting potential.


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