For people between 15 and 24 years old, basketball is the most prevalent activity associated with an injury. The US Department of Health and Human Services documented 570,000 basketball injuries which required treatment in the Emergency Department in 2012, 8,000 of which resulted in hospitalization.
With such alarming statistics, it’s important to observe safety measures while playing basketball whether it’s for recreational purposes or as an occupation.
There are several benefits of playing basketball including boosting your immune system, burning calories, improving heart health, busting stress, and developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Therefore, there’s no need for you to stop playing basketball; you just have to make sure you reduce your risk of injuries. (See also: 5 Most Common Foot Injuries and How to Avoid Them)
What are the most common injuries?
A lateral ankle sprain is the most common injury associated with sports. The risk factors include a history of ankle injury, those wearing shoes with air cells, and players who didn’t do stretching prior to the game. This can be managed at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation of the affected area.
This can range from simple cuts to damage to the ligaments and bone. Some may only require splinting while others may need to undergo surgical repair. Treatment is often necessary to avoid deformity.
Muscle imbalances and fatigue increase the risk of ACL tears. More than three decades ago, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears could mean ‘game over’ for basketball players. Today, they can return to playing as if nothing happened because of surgical and non-surgical interventions.
Also called pulled muscle, this injury can be extremely painful. Depending on the severity, you can manage it at home with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, rest, and compression. However, if there’s no relief after 24 hours, it’s time to seek medical care.
This is also known as jumper’s knee and affects the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone. Rest, cold compress, and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can relieve the pain but if it worsens or is already accompanied by swelling and redness, you may need to call your doctor.
This is relatively common in basketball players because of repetitive stress and too much weight-bearing on the heel. Recovery can take up to eight weeks without long-term complications and players can usually resume playing after they have fully recovered.
How to Ensure Safety?
- Do stretching and warm-up exercises before the game. Keeping your muscles and tendons flexible will reduce the likelihood of an injury. Jumping jacks and jogging in place for a few minutes can help prevent cold muscles.
- Condition your body by hitting the gym and doing strength training and aerobic exercises. This is essential to further strengthen the muscles that support your knees and lower extremities.
- Wear leg sleeves to protect your calves and shin and prevent muscle fatigue. A leg sleeve is also helpful when recovering from a leg injury since it helps stabilize the leg, reduce swelling, and alleviate pain.
- Make sure to wear the right footwear with proper support especially around the ankle. You can also wrap your ankle with athletic tape as an added measure. The shoes should fit snugly and they must be non-skid.
- Drink at least 8 ounces of sports drink before the game and rehydrate with another 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.
- Check the environment. Do not play outdoors in extreme weather conditions. If you’re playing indoors, look out for loose gravel, debris, water or anything that may trip you. If playing at night, make sure that the area is well lit and there are no holes in the ground.
- Double-check the backboards and baskets if they are securely mounted.
- Know how to properly jump, shoot, pass, and land without hurting yourself. If you’re not yet familiar, you can research before the game.
- Since basketball is considered a contact sport, you might consider wearing a mouth guard just in case.
- Spit out your gum or toothpick before playing since these can cause choking.
- Make sure that there’s a first aid kit nearby and you have a contact number to the nearest hospital in case of an emergency.
Playing basketball should be fun. It can improve your mood, boost your self-esteem and make you feel physically and mentally good. These tips may sound basic enough but sometimes, people tend to forget even the simplest safety measures. Don’t let a basketball injury catch you off guard, be prepared!
About The Author:
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Interested in all things related to living a healthy lifestyle, he enjoys sharing and expressing his passion through writing. Working to motivate others and defeat aging stereotypes, Joe uses his writing to help all people overcome the obstacles of life. Covering topics that range from physical health, wellness, and aging all the way to social, news, and inspirational pieces…the goal is to help others “rebel against age”.