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basketball injuries feature

For many people, basketball is safer than other sports such as football and soccer. However, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms treated approximately 501,000 basketball injuries in 2009.  For children between the ages of 5 to 14, 170,000 cases of basketball-related injuries were reported annually. The studies also showed that most of the injuries occur during competitions and not during practices.

Basketball is currently rated as the fourth sport with the leading cause of injuries. Statistics show that females sustain more injuries than male. 60%of injuries that occur during practice has been associated with lack of warm-up exercises. 

Common Basketball Injuries

Falls, abrupt changes in directions by the players, incorrect landings, contact with another player, or being hit by the ball are common causes of basketball injuries. The lower body incurs more injuries than any other part of the body. 

Here are common basketball injuries you should know about:

Foot/ Ankle injuries

Foot and ankle injuries are the most prevalent injury in basketball with a total of 39.7%.  They are usually associated with landing and it becomes worse if a player  lands on another player’s foot.  Uneven surface causes the ankle to twist and even turn inwards. Swelling and bruising may occur around the ankle.

Jammed Fingers

This happens when the ball hits the ends of your fingers. The fingers are compressed and the ligaments that support the joints are sprained. The greater the impact the more severe the sprain is. In some cases, the ligaments tear completely.  Pain and swelling of the joints on the fingers will occur immediately.

Knee Injuries

basketball knee injury

Knee injuries account for 14.7% of basketball-related injuries. They occur due to sudden changes in direction or sudden stops by the player.  This type of injury could happen even without the player being in contact with another player. You may experience pain on a small spot or entirely all over the knee.  

Deep Thigh Bruising

These injuries are often the result of contact and direct blows to the front of the thigh. Their overall percentage is 8.4%. Jumps, pivots, and rebounds all exert pressure on the hips and thighs.  The overextending of the muscles and ligaments can result in this injury.

Head and Face injuries

These contribute to 9.6% of basketball injuries. Colliding onto another player or being hit by an elbow accidentally are some of its causes. In extreme cases, this could result in concussions and fainting, especially if the impact was strong enough. Facial cuts could also happen when players fall and land on their faces or are hit by a sharp or hard objects such as the ring. Walls that are close to the court could also put players of risk of hitting a wall and incurring head and facial injuries.

Stress Fractures

Overtraining contributes greatly to this injury. Stress fractures in basketball mostly happen to the foot and lower parts of the leg. Major symptoms include inability to move and debilitating pain.

Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament injuries

ACL is an essential ligament in the knee that allows movement and provides stability when playing. Sudden changes in motion could result in straining and twisting this ligament. When this injury happens, the player may have to undergo reconstruction surgery.

Arms and Hands Injuries

These include wrist sprains, fractured fingers, elbow tendonitis, and elbow bursitis. A wrist sprain occurs due to forceful bending of the wrist. It happens when a player falls on the court with their hands outstretched. Fractured fingers results from finger jams and causes misalignment. Elbow tendonitis result from overuse and happens to most basketball players when they are passing or shooting the ball. The elbow and the muscles around it swell and become inflamed.


Head impacts during the game can result in serious concussions. If the concussions go undetected, they could result in long-term damage to the brain. Basketball contributes to 16% of concussions that occurred during a sport.  Concussions in the basketball court occur when a player hits the floor with their head either due to a fall, a poor jump, or due to a tangle up with another player. Accidental impact from an elbow of a fellow player or if the ball lands on their head could also lead to concussions.  When a head impact occurs, it is essential to assess the severity of the injury. Some common symptoms of a concussion include headaches, neck pains, dizziness, too much anxiety and nervousness and failure to remember or concentrate on a given thing.

Prevention of Basketball Injuries

Pain from injuries could be so debilitating that it prevents players from performing the whole season. As an athlete, you should protect yourself from these injuries. Some ways to do so include:

Preparation and Warm-Up

warm-up basketball injuries

Warm-up is essential for any physical activity. This prepares the body for the sudden changes in motion. Warm-ups and stretches enable the body to prepare for the task.  It also enhances the body’s ability to acquire and sustain strength, improves stability, provides coordination, and increases the flexibility of the player.

Techniques and Practices

Every player should learn proper techniques and practices such as passing, landing, receiving the ball, jumping, and shooting. You should also understand your physical capabilities and make sure not to overdo anything. The coaches and trainers should ensure that the players stick to the rules and regulations to protect them from unnecessary injuries.

It is essential to focus on the court techniques and to ensure that you know where the other players are on the court. This helps to minimize collisions and landing on the other player’s feet.  As a player, you should be fair and you should avoid holding, pushing, blocking, or tripping your opponents. The right techniques for passing and scoring should also be practiced at all times.

Proper Protective Equipment 

A mouth guard is an essential equipment in basketball. Every player should have one before the start of a game. You should also wear proper shoes at all times, whether you’re practicing or in an actual game. Your shoes should fit well, provide enough support, and have sufficient cushion. In addition, your shoes should have proper sole with enough grasp. Basketball shoes should also fit snugly, and should not skid. To prevent injuries caused by jumping, consider wearing ankle braces to lower your risk of having  ankle injuries. Knee and elbow pads provide protection when you fall. During the game, it is important to avoid wearing glasses and if you must, then wear safety glasses or glass guards to protect your eyes. Avoid wearing jewelry during a game.

Safe Basketball Ground

The playing ground or surface should be free of stones. The floor should always be dry as wet surfaces could increase risks of  slips and falls. If you like playing basketball at home, install the ring properly and securely. It should not be fixed to a brickwork or any loose surface. Keep the boundary lines away from walls or any fixtures.  It is essential that the players avoid playing during extreme weather conditions or on courts that are not properly lit. The goal posts should be well padded to prevent injuries and friction when making scores.


Dehydration can lead to severe conditions. It can also affect your performance. Water helps hydrate your body and protects you from fainting. It also helps transport the required nutrients to various parts of the body.

Treatment for Basketball Injuries

Before undergoing any treatment, have a healthcare provider assess the severity of your injury.  There are several treatment strategies used to treat basketball injuries. These include:

Early Injury Treatment

treatment for basketball injuries

This treatment is the simplest and it involves four basic factors:

  • – Rest
  • – Ice
  • – Compression
  • – Elevation

Or simply, R.I.C.E.

You should rest and restrain from activities that increase your risk for more injuries. Apply ice two to three days after the injury and for 20 minutes every two to three hours. The ice helps reduce pain and swelling around the tissues. A compressive bandage or wrap helps minimize  swelling and in some cases, bleeding. You may wear braces or rigid strapping tape. Elevating the injury above the heart is essential to reduce chances of inflammation and swellings.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

These are useful treatment techniques as they relieve pain on the region affected. Dry needling relaxes the muscles that are overactive and those that contain trigger points. As the muscles relax, you’re able to control the swelling. Acupuncture is the common treatment of choice for knee pain, ankle pain, and hip pains.

Avoid Risk Factors

After getting basketball injuries, avoid other activities that could increase pain to the affected area. These factors include running or too much exercise, direct massage to the area as it could aggravate the swelling of the damaged tissues, alcohol and heat packs, or heat baths or saunas.

Subacute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment

The major purpose of this treatment is to reduce inflammations and hasten the healing process. It could prevent muscle tightness and stiffness, effectively protecting the player from re-injuries. Some of the methods used in this treatment include ice, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and acupuncture.


Reconstruction surgery is a common treatment option for Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament injuries. Jammed fingers due to excessive impact sometimes incur ligaments tearing and surgery has to be carried out to ensure a quick recovery.

Basketball injuries should not discourage you from enjoying the sport. Players should understand the risks and learn to protect themselves from these injuries. Make sure to follow proper techniques of the game and always consult your trainers before engaging in an activity. Report injuries immediately to avoid serious consequences. Coaches or trainers should ensure that the court is always safe enough before the game starts and should ensure that the players wear the right attire.