7 Common Injuries in Basketball

Basketball is an extremely fun sport, but it’s not without its risks. As with any fast-paced game, there’s a lot of contact. With that, comes injuries. While it’s never the desired outcome, players get hurt quite a lot on the hardwood. Some injuries even happen on a regular basis.

The following list goes over the most common ways basketball players get injured. Understanding how such ailments occur, as well as why they’re so frequent, will help you avoid them and know the best way to protect your own health while on the court.

7. Concussions

It might seem surprising, especially due to their association with football, but concussions do occur on the hardwood from time to time. The head injuries aren’t the most common ailment, but they do happen with a good amount of frequency at all levels of play.

They commonly occur when players collide, or during hard falls onto the court. Any forceful contact to the head can trigger them, however. Unlike the other injuries on this list, concussions heal up rather quickly. Proper protocol only lasts a few days to a couple of weeks.

Still, they are serious and require a second opinion. Concussion symptoms include nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, and headaches. 

6. Knee Injuries

Perhaps no sports injury is more well known than an ACL tear. Though many players, especially ones who rely on their jumping ability, get them a lot at the NBA and collegiate levels, all athletes are prone to one type of knee injury or another.

Basketball puts a ton of stress on the lower body. The constant jumping, landing, and sprinting is especially hard on the knees, as is the litany of cuts and sudden stops that happen on every play. Any knocks, hits, or accidental blows might lead to issues as well.

Sometimes a knee injury might be something simple like deep bruising or jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis), but sometimes it might be as serious as permanent joint damage.

The most severe ailments require months, and sometimes years, of intense rehab. Smaller knee injuries, such as patella strains or damage to the medial collateral ligament, heal in a much more reasonable amount of time. Either way, they need ice and a lot of care.

Preventative natures are important too. Athletes who are worried about knee damage should practice strong strength training techniques, including warm-ups, cool down stretches, and proper lower body exercises both on and off the court.

5. Stress Fractures

While not as targeted or specific as the two above examples, stress fractures are a broader injury that can happen in a range of different situations. They are extremely common because they come about with any high level activity, and occur during overtraining.

Basketball is one of the most demanding sports in the world. Not only does it take a huge amount of flexibility, strength, and endurance to play for an entire game, it takes a lot of training and work to get into game shape. That’s why stress fractures happen so often.

Whenever, an athlete puts a lot of pressure on their lower body, both in training on the hardwood, they put themselves at risk. Overtraining happens quite a bit, especially for collegiate and NBA players who are always going as hard as they can.

Any part of the body can suffer from a stress fracture, but the lower body is at much bigger risk. The injuries most often occur in the foot and lower leg, but ankles might see them too.

4. Deep Thigh Bruising

Basketball is a tough sport. It’s also incredibly crowded. Players are running at extremely high speeds and moving around in close contact. That combination leads to deep thigh bruises.

Though all athletes see bruising on some level, thigh bruises are most common in basketball because of how many players need to move between screens or navigate inside the key. Anytime a leg hits an elbow or knee at high force, such bruises can happen.

While most players push through deep thigh bruises, especially in situations where they need to stay in the game, particularly severe ones require some ice or tissue massage from a licensed professional. 

3. Sprained/Broken Ankles

Ankles are incredibly important, but they are extremely fragile as well. While the joints hold up well enough in day-to-day life, they are prone to injuries when put under a lot of stress. Sometimes that causes sprains, and sometimes that causes breaks.

The reason both injuries are so commonplace in basketball is that it’s a sport with a lot of players packed into a tight space. It doesn’t take much for someone to roll their ankle when stepping on a shoe or tripping over an opponent.

Related: A History of Stephen Curry’s Ankle Injuries

Sprained ankles take roughly four to six weeks to heal, while breaks take a few months. In either case, it’s a serious issue that requires a good amount of rest, rehabilitation, and preventative care. Not only that, but ankles get weaker each time they get hurt.

That’s why it’s so essential for players to ensure their lower joints stay safe when they play. Not only are ankle splints and high-top shoes useful in cutting down on such problems, but proper care goes a long way as well.

2. Jammed Fingers

As mentioned, basketball is a close-knit game. All players run into each other at some point, especially down low on the block or while trying to fight through screens. On top of that, rebounds are tough to fight for, and the ball is constantly being whipped around the floor.

Such elements lead to a lot of jammed fingers. This injury, as the name suggests, happens when the ball, a hand, or another player hits the end of a finger and jams it back into the body. That causes the joint to swell and creates a ton of pain throughout the entire digit.

Unlike most other common injuries, jammed fingers are not a huge deal. Athletes can play with them while wearing a small brace. Even so, they do lead to a good amount of pain and can require an x-ray or second opinion if the swelling persists for a long time,

1. Muscle Strains

Few basketball injuries happen as much as muscle strains. They are similar to sprains in a lot of ways, but don’t occur within a joint. Rather, they happen when a player puts too much load on a specific muscle, or when they stretch a certain muscle far beyond its regular capacity.

When either of those instances occur, injuries happen. Athletes can recognize strains by hearing or feeling a small pop or snap in their muscles. The pain comes on immediately, and there may be inflammation as well.

Muscle strain recovery differs based on severity. More mild cases, where the muscles only get stretched a bit, take a few weeks (three to six) to fully heal. However, tough strains that occur under a ton of pressure may require a few months of ample rest and recovery.

Final Words

Nobody enjoys injuries, but they’re a part of every sport. Basketball isn’t huge on upper body issues, but ankles, knees, and feet are all extremely vulnerable. That’s why most common injuries have to do with the lower body.

However, though such problems are persistent, they are not inevitable. Everyone can take specific steps to avoid those problems. As long as athletes understand the right preventative care, they’ll be fine in the long run.

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