November 19th, 2014

Health N' Sports: Preventing hoops injuries

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Preventing hoops injuries
photo provided by Norton Sports Health

It is hoops season! There are lots of student athletes hitting the courts in the fast-paced sport of basketball. There are more youth injured playing basketball than any other sport, including football. Of course, every sport has some risk of injury, but there are things you can do to help prevent an injury when you play basketball this season. Learn more from the experts from Norton Sports Health.

Wear the right footwear

The wrong footwear is the quickest way to a sprained ankle or other injury. It’s important to ensure the shoes you wear give you the support you need. Basketball asks a lot of your body — pivots, jumps, quick movements in every direction. Your shoe needs to keep up. Look for quality brands that have a reputation for standing up to the action. Also, choose a shoe that has midfoot, heel and ankle support; a good lacing system; and a lot of cushioning. Finally, the shoe should be made of leather uppers and breathable materials to keep you as cool as possible.

Warm up. No, really.

Warming up is just a time-filler, right? No. One of the easiest ways to get hurt is to push yourself too hard or too fast. You can avoid this by warming up your muscles. Your warm-up should be done with the same amount of diligence as your practice and playing. Active (or dynamic) warm-ups, like leg kicks and high knees, will get your body ready for the physical demands of the sport.

Remember your abilities

Many athletes hurt themselves when they try to do something they aren’t prepared for. Don’t pressure yourself to keep up with others or impress your parents and friends. Pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. Decrease training time and intensity if pain or discomfort develops. Your skill will develop with time. Rushing it might land you on the bench with an injury — and a setback.

Quick guide to treating injuries

Treatment for an ankle sprain involves Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (remember RICE). You may need evaluation by a physician and X-rays depending on the severity and location of the pain and swelling. A jammed finger occurs when the ball forcefully contacts the end of the finger and causes significant swelling of a single joint. Application of ice and taping the finger to the adjacent finger may provide some relief. If pain and swelling persist, evaluation by a physician or athletic trainer is,recommended and an X-ray may be needed. The stop-and-go and cutting maneuvers required in basketball put the knees at risk for torn ligaments and menisci. Blows to the knee can often be treated with ice, bracing and a gradual return to activity. Injury to a ligament is more serious and requires prompt physician evaluation, treatment (sometimes surgery) and rehabilitation. Stress fractures can occur from a rapid increase in activity level or from overtraining. Stress fractures in basketball most commonly occur in the foot and lower leg (tibia). Once diagnosed, it will require a period of immobilization and not putting weight on the limb. Return to play is permitted once the fracture has completely healed and you are pain-free

Top basketball injuries

Ankle sprains

Jammed fingers

Knee injuries

Stress fractures

Additional tips for avoiding injuries

Have a pre-season physical exam and follow your doctor’s recommendations for injury prevention. Stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after practice. Waiting until you are thirsty is too late. Stay in shape throughout the year. Injury rates are higher in athletes who have not adequately prepared physically.

After a period of inactivity, gradually get back to full contact basketball through activities such as     aerobic conditioning, strength training and agility training.

If you play more than one sport per year, take at least one season off. Overuse injuries happen when  young athletes over train and don’t give their bodies a break.

The Norton Sports Health team of highly trained sports medicine specialists include orthopedists, neurologists, physiatrists and primary care physicians who work together with trainers, physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists and other care providers to design customized programs that return patients to optimal performance and fitness following a sports-related injury. Learn more at


Recent Articles