Basketball provides a great full-body workout. But there are steps you should take to reduce your risk of knee, ankle and foot injuries, an orthopedic specialist says.
In 2016, more than 60,500 people were treated for basketball-related foot injuries in U.S. emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics. More than 355,000 sought help for basketball-related ankle injuries, and more than 186,000 people suffered basketball-related knee juries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Foot and ankle injuries are the most common injuries in basketball,” said Dr. Matthew Matava, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Washington University in St. Louis. He’s also an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery spokesperson.
“Non-contact twisting injuries to the knee and ankle while racing for the ball, coming down from a rebound, or defending an opposing player can lead to knee ligament and cartilage tears and sprained ankles,” Matava said in an academy news release.
Simply wearing shoes designed for basketball can lower some of these risks, he noted. “Proper shoes with ankle support and good traction for basketball court surfaces are essential,” he added.
Matava also shared these other injury-prevention tips:
- Maintain a balanced fitness program during the off-season. Always warm up and stretch before a game with activities such as jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Learn and follow proper technique. Play your assigned position and know where other players are on the court to reduce the chance of collisions. Know the rules of the game and avoid illegal contact that involves holding, blocking, pushing or charging opponents.
- Use appropriate equipment. Most basketball shoes have a high-top ankle support, which may reduce the risk of ankle sprains. Ankle braces or tape can further stabilize the ankle, especially if you’ve had a sprain before. Absorbent cotton socks reduce the risk of blisters. Wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
- Check the court before you play. Outdoor and indoor courts should be properly maintained and free of rocks, holes, cracks, debris and water. The surface should have adequate traction.
- Make sure baskets and boundary lines aren’t too close to walls, bleachers, water fountains or other structures. Basket goal posts, as well as the walls behind them, should be padded. Don’t play in extreme weather or on courts that aren’t properly lit.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers sports safety tips.