Basketball Injuries: A Physical Therapy Guide

Basketball Injuries: A Physical Therapy Guide

As per a journal on injury risk during the NBA season, around 4,346 injuries were reported from 2015 through 2020. The research also showed that the number of injuries among basketball players has increased in recent years.

Even high school basketball players are prone to similar injuries. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), 22% of male basketball players sustain a one-time loss injury yearly.

A few of the causes of injuries among basketball players include:

  • Off-season gap in adult professional players
  • Quick and sudden actions
  • Physical contact with other players
  • Falls and awkward landings
  • Being hit by a basketball at awkward places like a thumb

In this article, we will shed light on basketball injuries. We will talk about common injuries associated with basketball and how physical therapy can help you heal them.

Basketball, man and knee in sports injury on the court holding painful, sore or tender area in the outdoors. Basketball player suffering from leg pain, joint or inflammation in sport match or game

Common Injuries Associated with Basketball

1. Sprained ankle

Lateral ankle sprains are the most common injuries in basketball players. Playing basketball requires you to land on your feet with an impact of up to 4 to 6 times your body weight.

Moreover, players have to change directions every 2 to 3 seconds, which results in sprains and twists. Also, the players have to jump at least 70 times during the match and land on their feet correctly. Any wrong landing causing inward foot rolls results in ankle sprains. This is the main cause of foot and ankle pain in basketball players.

2. MCL and ACL injuries

A basketball player experiencing knee pain may have stretched their knee tissue. ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) are two important knee tissues that can be overworked due to repeated sudden changes in direction.

An ACL injury accounts for 64% of all athletic knee injuries. It is caused by sudden stops, abrupt landing, and repeated jumping. An MCL injury is caused when the side of the knee hits hard with the other knee, with other players, or with the ground.

Depending on the extent of the injury, an MCL injury may take one to more than six weeks to heal. Other common knee injuries in basketball players include knee fractures, patellofemoral pain syndrome, and meniscus tears. Any knee injury that discomforts a player due to extreme pain can be relieved through physical therapy. Even knee fractures are followed by physical therapy sessions to encourage full recovery.

3. Wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries

Wrist, elbow, and shoulder pain are common in basketball players and are caused by related injuries like muscle strains, bicep tendonitis, and others. The major cause of shoulder, elbow, and wrist pain is usually tendonitis, i.e., inflammation caused by repeated use of the forearms and shoulders.

Jumper’s knee, caused by inflammation of the patellar tendon (a tissue that connects the knee cap to the shinbone), is also a result of repeated jumping actions.

Raising your hands above your forehead and turning your wrists inward to land the ball in the basket are common moments required in basketball. All these activities done in a fast-paced atmosphere significantly increase the chances of such injuries. In fact, 51 wrist and hand injuries were reported in the 2020 NBA season out of 996 injuries. Meanwhile, 90 lower leg injuries were reported.

Sport Physiotherapy Specialist Showing How to Stretch a Rubber Band on Specific Muscle Groups or Joints to Young Male Athlete. Sportsman Recovering from Injury, Undergoing Rehabilitation.

How Does Physical Therapy Help in Healing Basketball Injuries?

The best part about physical therapy is that it helps basketball players recover quickly after injuries and even prevents injuries in the first place.

Physical therapy helps with both kinds of basketball injuries: traumatic and overuse. Traumatic injuries include fractures, ligament tears, and concussions caused by a sudden, traumatic single accident. On the other hand, overuse injuries are caused by the repetitive motion of a body part, resulting in a joint point in a particular body part like the knee, shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

Physical therapy helps eliminate the risk of getting a traumatic basketball injury and recovering from overuse injuries.

Physical therapy before an injury

Physical therapy before an injury is useful for players to keep their bodies in motion, even during the off-season. With the help of sports trainers, professional basketball players can devise a physical therapy plan that can help them warm up a few days a week. Such sessions include basic therapy sessions involving anaerobic activities, strength training, and flexibility training.

Physical therapy after an injury

Physical therapy after injury is aimed at the quick recovery of a player after a traumatic injury. It’s done to bring the body back to its original momentum after being shut down for a while due to the injury.

Certified physical therapist checking muscle strength of young man

Physical Therapy Approaches Used for Basketball Injuries

1. RICE therapy

RICE, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation, is a common type of physical therapy used in sports injuries. This is done to first stabilize the injury before working on its rehabilitation. It helps in reducing pain and inflammation. Such an approach is used for shoulder pain and knee pain and is often known as shoulder pain therapy in Santa Monica.

RICE is also used for ankle sprains, knee injuries, and tendonitis.

2. Strength training

Strength training is used for the proper recovery of the injury. It’s also given to basketball players to prevent injuries. In strength training, the player is made to do strengthening exercises to regain the motion and mobility of the injured body part. It also involves balance training in the case of ankle sprains and proprioception exercises to prevent future strains and sprains.

In joint injuries resulting in wrist or elbow pain, the exercises also focus on eliminating stiffness in the affected tissues and muscles. These are also followed by weight training to strengthen the muscles of the affected body further.

3. Balance and prevention exercises

Once the injury starts to fade away, the physical therapist works to reduce the risk of re-injury. This involves stability and eccentric strengthening exercises that help players return to their pre-injury strength and flexibility.

Some physical therapists also specialize in annual training and work as chiropractors to relieve stiffness in sore muscles through the magic of their hands.

In short, physical therapy for basketball injuries has many benefits. Basketball is highly demanding when it comes to swiftness and endurance. From exemplary footwork to the involvement of soft tissues to the overworking of muscles, players must be in full form.

As per a study, it may take players up to a year to return to their original form after a stress fracture. Thus, any injury can be detrimental to the career of a professional basketball player.

Physical Therapy in Santa Monica

Basketball players can also take advantage of daily physical therapy sessions to avoid knee, ankle, elbow, wrist, and shoulder pain from injuries to such affected body parts.

Physical therapy sessions for such pains are the least demanding and give back a lot to the players. The benefits of physical therapy are multifold, from contributing to extra swiftness, improving neuromuscular control to facilitate change in directions, providing relief from pain, and reducing the risk of injuries during practice and play.

If you are a basketball player in Santa Monica, contact Dr. Roy today to get rid of all kinds of pain (ankle, arm, knee, back, etc.) related to basketball injuries.

Dr. Roy Nissim, DC, MS

Dr. Roy Nissim attended The University of Arizona, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in General Biology with minors in Chemistry and Athletic Coaching. His graduate work was completed at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, California, where he was actively involved in the Sports Council and graduated Cum Laude.

As a board certified chiropractor and certified practitioner in Active Release Techniques® (ART®), Dr. Roy Nissim is dedicated to helping individuals reach an optimum level of health and fitness through personalized treatment specifically tailored to one’s activity level and needs.

By employing ART® in conjunction with traditional chiropractic techniques and exercise rehabilitation, Dr. Roy has successfully treated acute and repetitive strain injuries in half the time of more traditional therapy methods. These results allow an individual to return to their normal activities after only several treatments.

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