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10 Tips on Preventing Basketball Injuries

Sep 10, 2008
Basketball has been known to be a challenging sport to play. It has also been know to take its toll on your body. Follow these 10 tips on preventing basketball injuries and you'll feel better about getting back on the court.

1. Proper warm up. I can't stress enough how important it is to loosen up and stretch. So many times we are so ready to play that we neglect even a minimal warm up or stretch. I would start with a 5-10 minute jog around the court. Get the muscles warmed. Muscles that are cold and tight don't react as quickly and can easily get strained or injured. After your jog, run some lines, from the free throw line to the half court line etc. Run at approximately 75% of your total speed, to get your heart pumping and muscles really moving.

2. Check out the court. During your warm up, check out to see if there are any items such as rocks, holes, glass, etc. on the court that could present as dangerous and remove them. As silly as this seems, there are many injuries that happen due to tripping over and falling over court debris. Inside courts should be clean, clear of water spills and the flooring should have good traction.

3. Wear proper shoes. I know this may seem basic, but most people have one pair of athletic tennis shoes that they wear for every sport, running, tennis, basketball etc. You should wear specific basketball shoes and even find out which types of basketball shoes are for you. There are high tops that offer maximum support and stabilization for your ankles. There are mid tops that offer minimal ankle support and low tops that offer no ankle support. If you're a beginner, I would suggest either a high top or mid top shoe. This will give you ankle support and will help prevent injuries. For the more advanced basketball player, I would recommend that the guard position where a mid to low top shoe. Although this will give you less ankle support, it will give you more flexibility. For the forwards and centers I recommend high tops for more support.

4. Drink plenty of water. While playing ball, it is important to stay hydrated for optimal performance. 2 hours prior to playing, you should drink 20 oz of water and then continue to drink water during the game. Even after you're done playing, you should replenish with fluids and even a sports drink up to a few hours after playing. Always keep water with you in your gym bag.

5. Stretch. And I mean stretch. How often do we jump straight into playing ball with only minimal (if any) stretching? I highly recommend you spend about 5 to 10 minutes stretching from the bottom of your body to the top. Start with the
a. ankles: while seated roll your ankles in a circular motion.
b. Calves: standing with your hands against a wall, bend your right leg and keep your left leg back with heels on the floor. Hold for 20 seconds
c. Knees: while standing, bend your knee and grab the ankle. Hold for 20 seconds
d. Low back: while standing upright, bend at the waist and try to touch your toes.
e. Mid back: while standing upright, side bend to the right and then to the left. Also, twist to the left and to the right.
f. Neck: slowly turn your head to the left and to the right. Bend your neck forwards and then backwards. Slowly move your neck into a circular motion.
g. Shoulders: while standing upright, grab your right arm with your left hand and pull across your chest. Repeat with the other side. Remember that basketball is not only a lower body workout. It requires you to move all parts of your body and therefore every muscle and joint should be stretched to avoid injury.

6. Strengthen your muscles. This will take time but as you are aware, the stronger the muscles, the more that they will be able to support you and propel you throughout your game. If you never worked out before in a gym, then I would highly recommend the advice of a personal trainer, and especially someone who knows about basketball. Just 20 minutes a day for strengthening your muscles and 10 minutes for cardio, is key to preventing injuries and improving your game.

7. Support braces. Let's be honest, no matter what you do, you may not be able to avoid an injury. You roll your ankle on someone's foot, run into a screen that knocks you on the floor. You're not crippled, but then you're not 100%. Invest in some support braces from your local doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to advise on what type of brace you will need to help avoid injuries.

8. Mouth pieces. An important part of preventing injuries, the mouth piece is invaluable. Although it does't seem like basketball is a rough sport, it actually is. Remember what a hard foul is?! Many times as you are driving to the basket, you can get hit in the mouth. A mouth guard can help protect from the loss or fracture of your teeth. They are sold at sporting good stores and should be worn at all times.

9. If you're injured see a doctor. Some injuries although minimal can actually lead to something bigger. By seeing your doctor sooner than later, you can avoid it from being a bigger problem. Don't be a tough guy and continue to play. See a doctor who specializes in sports injuries and who will be able to give you guidance on how to fix it.

10. Have fun. By having fun, you avoid getting into trouble. You avoid playing dirty and deliberately hurting the other team. No one likes to play with someone who constantly fouls and plays out of control. Remember to have fun and you will enjoy playing the game.
About the Author
Dr. Vasili Gatsinaris is a native of Southern California who graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of California Irvine and received his doctorate from Los Angeles Chiropractic College. Gatsinaris is the Founder of Next Level Wellness Center in Irvine.
www.NextLevelWellnessCenter.com
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