With all the march madness stuff going on I thought I’d highlight injuries in a sport which I know fairly well. Basketball is a game of finesse and speed, where the physics of the game can lead to a fair amount of strains and sprains.
First a sprain is what happens to your ankle when it is “rolled” where the ligament is sprained beyond its elastic limit. A strain is the same process when a muscle or muscle group is involved, for instance you hear about ball players straining their calf or hamstring. Cramping happens when the muscle is overfatigued and has begun producing lactic acid in response to the lack of oxygen.
Though paling in comparison to football when it comes down to traumatic injuries, ankle, knee, and hip issues can be a problem. Even more problematic are wrist, elbow, and shoulder mechanism as tehy are crucial to the shooting mechanism. I could talk ad nauseum on how improving mechanics can improve basketball skills but I am speaking in the capacity of a doctor so how to prevent and treat basketball injuries.
Stretching has always been a staple of organized basketball, but does stretching decrease injuries? Some studies say that they don’t and some athletes that stretch are at greater risk. “Have you ever seen a lion stretch before it takes down a a gazelle” Woody Harrelson’s character says in the movie Zombieland. So why do we do if it can increase injuries? I think the answer can be found in weight lifters. notice that weightlifters don’t so much as stretch, but ready their mind and body to perform the action they will have to perform. So in this sense a mental and physical warm up are crucial to high performance and the stretching is how most of us “get ready”. I suggest warming up to replace stretching as the appropriate term.
If you are a 2-guard or shooting guard then warming up the shooting muscles of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Slashers should ready their knees and ankles to cut in a timely fashion. Centers should ready their lower limbs and squats can help them build that lower body strength. Rebounders should warm up their quads and calves, and dunkers should be aware of where their feet land.
If you get an injury, ice as soon as possible for 15 minutes being careful not to get frost bite (I find ice water works best for swelling), and see a doctor who may suggest an x-ray to see if there are any fractures. If it’s just a simple sprain 2-6 weeks recovery time depending on the extent or grade of injury. There are many treatments out there that can benefit you, talk to your chiropractor about what faster healing options are available.