March is here, and for basketball enthusiasts, that can only mean one thing: March Madness. This thrilling tournament is filled with buzzer-beaters, underdog teams, and the triumphant act of cutting down the net. From Arike Ogunbowale to Zion Williamson, star players are gearing up to participate in the madness that unfolds as 60+ teams compete in a single-elimination tournament, all vying for the prestigious National Championship.

As the three weeks of intense play commence, these athletes have been diligently training throughout the year for this very moment. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential risks involved in basketball, such as sports injuries, including common ones like rotator cuff injuries and ulnar collateral ligament injury. In order to safeguard players' well-being throughout the season, it is essential to be aware of these injuries and follow prevention tips.

Most Common Sports Injuries

Basketball, a widely loved sport embraced by players of various ages and skill levels, unfortunately, carries a significant number of sports injury statistics. With approximately 1.6 million injuries reported annually, it is crucial to be mindful of the associated risks when engaging in this game.

According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, [sports injuries] in basketball include:

  • Ankle Sprains: This is the most common injury in basketball. A quick change in direction or jumping and landing on another player’s foot are two common ways that the ankle is sprained in basketball. A common misconception that is often heard is “It’s just a sprain, they’ll walk it off.” A sprain involves the ligaments of the ankle and can turn out to be a significant injury depending on the level of impact/force to the ligaments. Although many sprains are minor with a player usually returning within a few days, a more serious sprain can keep an athlete sidelined for several weeks.
  • Jammed Fingers: Whether it was going for a steal or simply catching a pass from a teammate, almost all basketball players have experienced the misfortune of a jammed finger at some point in their career. It occurs when the ball awkwardly strikes the fingertip, leaving the knuckle to absorb the force and cause injury to the finger.
  • Knee Injuries: Most minor sports injuries occur in high-intensity games like basketball, where quick changes in direction and repetitive jumping are common. One common injury is patellar tendonitis, also known as 'jumper's knee,' which involves inflammation of the cord-like tissue connecting the kneecap to the shin bone. Constant jumping and landing can lead to this overuse injury. Additionally, damage to structures in the knee, such as the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, or meniscus, are also common in basketball and other similar sports.
  • Deep Thigh Bruising: Basketball is a contact sport, and even though foul calls are made to keep the game safe, there is always inadvertent contact that happens when players are all going for the ball at full speed. A thigh bruise commonly results in basketball when the front of the thigh is struck by another player’s elbow or knee.
  • Stress Fractures: This is another overuse injury that results from overtraining, starting initial training or getting back into training at too rapid of a pace, and changing shoes or running surfaces. Stress fractures are most commonly seen in the foot and lower leg. Repetitive high-impact forces combined with inadequate rest and recovery cause the supporting muscles and bones to become tired and weak. The constant jumping and running in basketball can put a lot of extra stress on the bones when the muscles are tired. When the stress-bearing capacity of a bone is exceeded, a fracture can occur.

When most sports injuries occur, proper physical therapy becomes essential for recovery. It plays a crucial role in helping athletes rehabilitate and regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Additionally, physical therapy can prevent or manage acute injuries by addressing underlying imbalances or weaknesses through regular sessions.

Remember, acute injuries happen suddenly,  so it's important to seek medical attention. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage and expedite the recovery process. Whether you are a professional athlete or someone who loves to play sports recreationally, taking care of your body and addressing shoulder injuries and other sports-related issues is crucial for long-term well-being.

Injury Prevention

When it comes to contact sports like basketball, being mindful of common injuries is crucial. Implementing injury prevention strategies takes on added importance during this time of the year, especially in the pursuit of reaching the highly coveted National Championship game. Sports injuries involving contact sports can have a significant impact on players' health and performance, making it vital to prioritize their well-being. Here are some injury prevention strategies in basketball that can help athletes stay healthy and on the court during crunch time.

When it comes to basketball, it's crucial to prioritize safety to prevent sports injuries, such as a broken bone or an ankle sprain. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  1. Proper basketball equipment: Ensure you have the right gear, including supportive and non-slip basketball sneakers. Additional safety equipment like ankle braces, knee pads, and a mouth guard can provide added protection.
  2. Warm up and stretch: Before games, make sure to warm up and stretch to prepare your body for the high intensity required in basketball. This helps prevent injuries and improves performance.
  3. Follow the rules and use proper technique: Basketball involves various movements like passing, dribbling, shooting, and rebounding. To ensure safety, it's important to follow the rules and focus on the fundamentals of the game.
  4. Stay hydrated and maintain proper nutrition: Adequate hydration and nutrition are essential for optimal performance in any sport. Drink plenty of fluids and fuel your body with nutritious foods.
  5. Participate in an exercise program: Incorporate a well-rounded exercise program that includes strength training, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, balance, and agility drills specific to basketball movements.
  6. Proper rest and recovery: Rest and recovery are crucial throughout the season, especially during intense tournament times. Allow your body time to recover and rejuvenate to prevent overuse injuries.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the game of basketball while minimizing the risk of sports injuries.

Despite these prevention efforts, the fast-paced and high-intensity nature of the game of basketball can lead to these common injuries and more. Our team of qualified physicians has the most extensive experience with sports-related injuries in the Lehigh Valley and our Sports Medicine Institute was voted best Sports Medicine Team in the 2018 Morning Call Reader’s Choice Awards.

To schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, call 610-973-6200 or fill out our “Request an Appointment” form.