This time of year, basketball season is in full swing. Unfortunately, with this popular sport comes a number of common injuries. Whether you play in a league, on weekends for fun, or just watch your children enjoy the sport, you are probably familiar with the sprains, swelling and bruises that come along with this and many other recreational activities. Knowing about them and the treatments to heal them can help you and your family enjoy the court this season.
Ankle sprains occur most often when you land on your foot improperly. With this injury, pain around the bony part of your ankle, swelling, bruising and tenderness are normal. In children, it could result in an injury to the growth plate and should be looked at by a physician. The common treatment for an ankle sprain is the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Many maneuvers in basketball that are made quickly can put the ligaments of the knee under strain. Injury to the medial collateral ligament is most common and can be treated with the RICE method, followed by bracing your knee and gradually returning to activity. If you feel continued pain or hear a clicking or popping sound, consult a doctor immediately.
An injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee can be more serious. These injuries usually happen when an abrupt change in direction is made, or players make an improper landing. This injury can sometimes require surgery to mend and usually requires players to be out of the game for the rest of the season.
Jammed fingers occur when the ball contacts the end of the finger, causing it to swell at the joint. Treatment is simple. Just submerge your finger in cold water for 20 minutes or apply ice. You can tape the finger to the adjacent finger (called “buddy taping”) to provide some relief and protect you from further injury. If pain or swelling continues, see a doctor to get an X-ray.
Head and facial injuries usually are a result of contact with another player and tend to bleed more than other wounds. Apply pressure to stem the bleeding. The cut may require stitches or a butterfly tape to heal. Ice may provide pain relief and decrease swelling. You can return to play almost immediately if the cut is not too severe.
Muscle bruising is caused by overuse or inflexibility. Again, the RICE method helps treat muscle bruising. Girdles are available with thigh pads for protection against deep thigh bruising, but the best course to take is prevention by stretching your muscles before and after prolonged activity.
Stress fractures come from a rapid increase in activity level or overtraining. In basketball, they commonly occur in your foot or lower leg (tibia). You’ll need to stay off your leg or foot for some time in order to let the fracture heal completely. Not doing so can result in a bad break or a prolonged injury.
Tips on Preventing Injuries:
- Stay in shape; stick to a balanced fitness program and don’t overdo your training.
- Stretch and warm up thoroughly before and after practices and games – cold muscles are prone to injury. There are a number of drills you can perform that are specifically targeted at injury prevention in basketball.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydrated muscles can affect performance.
- Focus on your technique. Play your position and be aware of others players on the court.
- Use appropriate equipment. Make sure your equipment (including your shoes) fits properly. Use ankle supports, mouth guards, goggles, and knee and elbow pads when necessary.
- Prepare the court. Especially if playing on an outdoor court, ensure there are no holes, debris or other hazards.
- If you are injured, take the proper amount of time to heal before getting back on the court.
at common basketball injuries.