The Most Common Knee Injuries in Basketball and How to Avoid Them
Basketball is a great sport for people of all ages to play, not only because it helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle but because it also teaches social skills, fair play, and team cooperation. Over the years, basketball has grown immensely in popularity, with the National Basketball League (NBA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) really showcasing the true power, strength, and skill of the game.
Of the top 10 most played sports, basketball comes in at number five, with at least 450 million people playing the sport around the world.
Like many sports, basketball has evolved to a whole new level over the last decade. Players are faster and stronger, and the training required to succeed is much more demanding. Even for younger individuals and teams, there is a much greater emphasis on starting early and practicing often to ensure that a player has what it takes to face the best in their league.
With the added speed and power of the game, basketball does not come without injuries. If you or someone you know is thinking about trying out for a league, it’s important to recognize the common knee injuries experienced in the sport and what you can do to protect yourself. These are the most common knee injuries in basketball and how to avoid them.
Knee sprains and strains are not specific to the sport of basketball; in fact, these kinds of injuries can happen during all kinds of activities outside of sport. However, when it comes to basketball, this kind of injury is common because of the quick movements and constant jumping that occur.
A sprain is experienced when a ligament in the knee is overstretched. Ligaments are the fibrous materials that hold the bones together, and if the injury is too severe, the ligament may tear completely.
A strain on the other hand, occurs when a tendon is injured as opposed to a ligament. Tendons are fibrous cords that work to keep the muscles attached to the bones. This kind of injury to the knee usually occurs from overuse, and if the injury is severe enough players may be out for weeks or months at a time while they heal.
To prevent knee sprains and strains, players should adopt a full warm-up routine and cool down after playing to ensure that their muscles are warm and flexible. Tight muscles have the tendency to pull, so having a warm-up routine ensures that these muscles can perform at their best.
Players might also consider investing in a supportive knee brace, which can help to protect the joints around the knee as well as the patella itself. A quality basketball knee brace will stabilize the area, ensuring that the joints, muscles, and bones stay in their designated area without stretching or pulling too far.
Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
The patellar tendon is a very important player in keeping the knee moving smoothly because s it attaches the patella to the shinbone. When a player is overusing their knee for jumping, bouncing, and running, the tendon can often become inflamed and painful. This injury is known as “patellar tendonitis” and is often referred to as “jumper’s knee.”
To prevent a player from contracting patellar tendonitis, the first thing to do is take a break whenever the area feels sore or fatigued. Over-using the area and performing the same movements will only make the injury worse and prolong the recovery time.
Some signs that your body may be subjected to jumper’s knee include over-pronation of the foot, a tight IT band or a loose kneecap. Any of these symptoms can increase the risk of this common injury, so keep an eye out for these signs and fix them quickly for prevention.
Strength exercises for the knee can also help to prevent this common injury, so be sure to consult a physiotherapist or sports medicine doctor to find some exercises that will work for you.
Two very common knee injuries in basketball occur in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). These two ligaments form an “X” shape within the knee, and are responsible for helping us to move our knee back and forth.
An ACL tear is much more common in basketball and usually occurs when a player changes direction, lands awkwardly, or stops too suddenly. PCL injuries occur when there is hyperextension, or when the kneecap is hit or twisted.
Preventing ligament tears can be difficult, since prevention will be unique to each individual. Some players will have weaker muscles than others, and most players will need unique strengthening practices for their specific issues.
Speaking with a sports medicine coach or athletic trainer will help players to identify where they need to increase their strength and what kind of movements they need to alter to prevent tears.
Basketball is a fun, inclusive sport that is perfect for maintaining a healthy lifestyle at any age. To enjoy your game from start to finish, give your body all the preparation it needs with tactics like a proper warm-up, effective bracing, strengthening exercises, and cool downs. These items and exercises will help to avoid knee injuries and keep you on the court all season long.