The Scoop on Basketball Injuries (And How to Avoid Them)

When most people think about sports-related injuries, the first sports that typically come to mind are collision sports such as football, or ice hockey.  However, many sports are considered contact sports, and carry with them a significant risk of injury. These include sports like soccer, baseball, and – you guessed it—basketball.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 501,000 basketball-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2009. In addition, a study published in 2010 that was conducted over the course of 17 years and 1,094 players, professional athletes in the NBA experience a high rate of game-related injuries. Patellofemoral inflammation—inflammation that is the result of worn-down, softened or roughened cartilage under the kneecap—was the most significant injury in terms of days lost in competition.

These startling statistics don’t just apply to professionals, either. In high school basketball (according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association):

  • 11 percent of injuries involved the hip and thigh
  • 22 percent of all male basketball players sustained at least one time-loss injury each year.
  • 42 percent of the injuries were to the ankle/foot
  • 9 percent of injuries involved the knee
  • Sprains were the most common type of injury (43 percent)

What are some other common basketball injuries?

Due to the fast-paced nature of the sport, the majority of the injuries incurred while playing basketball involve the foot, ankle or knee. There’s also a risk of jammed fingers and stress fractures occurring in the lower leg and foot.

What are some ways to prevent injuries?

Thankfully, there are many preventive strategies athletes of all ages can utilize to make sure they’re ready leading up to and during basketball season:

  • Stay fit. Players should maintain a regular exercise routine—both on and off season—that incorporates flexibility training, strength training and aerobic exercise.
  • Keep hydrated. If the body is dehydrated, it will have difficulty keeping cool when it’s highly active. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), players should:
    • Drink 16 ounces of fluid two to three hours before exertion and about eight additional ounces 15 minutes before exertion
    • Take breaks when possible while playing (around every 15 to 20 minutes) to take in approximately four ounces of fluid
    • Drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid for every pound lost after exertion
  • Warm the body up. It’s always a good idea to take time to stretch and warm the body up before any extended physical activity to avoid injury. Players can warm up with activities such as jumping jacks or running/walking in place for two to five minutes. After that, slow stretching is recommended, holding each position for at least 30 seconds before moving on.
  • Don’t forget technique. Players should remember to only use proper techniques for passing and scoring. Not doing so may result in self-injury or injury involving another player.
  • Wear and maintain appropriate equipment. Players should choose sneakers that fit snuggly, offer support for the foot and have non-slip soles. Mouth guards should also be worn to protect the teeth and head from injury as well as safety glasses or glass guards to protect those with glasses.
  • Avoid overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are becoming more common, especially in younger athletes. Players should not be allowed to play one sport all year long and should be limited to how many teams they can play on within a season.

Come to the Sports Medicine Specialists

If sports-related injuries do occur, our physicians at Northeast Orthopedics and Sports Medicine (NEOSM) have years of experience in effectively treating all orthopedic conditions. Our multidisciplinary approach to care ensures that patients receive the customized treatment they need to get back in the game.

For more information on sports medicine or to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine specialists, contact us today.