Dealing with basketball injuries has changed SO much since I was on the floor! The days of wearing knee pads to prevent injury are pretty much over. Now the trend is to wear no protection at all until an injury occurs, and then resort to a brace or wrap of some kind to address the problem. I’ll be showing my age here to make this point, but here goes…..
Back in the late 70s, during my high school-days, I was showing a lot of promise as a guard. At 5’11”, I was able to dunk and hold my own in the low post with the “big boys”. That was until a knee injury in my junior year changed all that. With a torn ACL and meniscus damage, I spent 6 weeks in a cast from my hip to my toes, followed by a few months of rehab, and then many more months wearing a knee brace. Needless to say, my sports “career” was toast!
Today is a much different story. Surgeries are much less invasive, recovery times shorter, and athletic careers/endeavors can be resumed to full capacity – in many cases. Proper braces for several joints (knee, elbow, wrist, ankle) play a big part in keeping a basketball player on the floor, or back in the game more quickly.
Staying with my HS basketball theme, let’s look at some stats ( we love our stats – don’t we?!) from 2010 regarding reported high school injuries:
- among male players, 22% sustained at least one time-loss injury each year
- of those 22% that sat out for a period of time, 42% of the injuries were to the ankle/foot
- another 11% involved the hip and thigh
- 9% suffered knee injuries of some sort
- ankle or knee sprains were the most common type of injury at 43%
As you can see from the above, the legs do the bulk of the work, and in so doing, absorb a bulk of the injuries. Upper torso injuries aren’t even mentioned – not to say that they don’t happen. Taking a spill, what happens? You try to brace your fall with your hand, which quite often results in wrist damage, sprain, bruising, etc.
Let’s go a little deeper, starting at the bottom, and work our way up and see how wearing braces for basketball can help your game ……
Ankle Braces for Basketball
You can still dribble and shoot with an ankle injury, but if you can’t run because of ankle pain, that doesn’t do you any good. The ankles are the foundation to all things basketball and it’s crucial to having them well supported after an injury. The ankles go through quite a pounding with many sports, and basketball is no exception. Just think of the jolting affect from jumping, the strain from twisting and turning on a dime, and just the continuous action over the course of a game! One of the more common problems encountered in BB is the rolled ankle, due to landing on someone else’s foot. It would be pretty rare for someone who plays for any amount of time to not sustain a sprained, or at least, a strained ankle.
Whether your ankles are healthy or recovering from injury, they can benefit from an ankle sleeve or ankle brace to give them added stability.
Any kind of jumping i.e. to launch a jump-shot, contest for a rebound, the explosiveness of a quick first step, leap to block a shot, or to intercept a pass — requires the engagement of the calf muscles. Repetitive use of this muscle group, and especially late in the game as fatigue sets in, can result in strains quite easily. A wrap to support tired/stressed muscles is just what the doctor ordered for this one.
No less important than sound ankles are the knees.
Although when moving properly, the knees don’t have to endure normal twisting and turning actions, they do endure substantial pounding from jumping up and down. In fact, it’s the twists and unexpected turns, where we get into trouble with our knees – they don’t like that at all, and we end up wearing a knee brace. How many times have you hit a spot on the floor that was a bit sticky, causing your shoe to grab when you didn’t expect it to, and you end up with a twisted or worse yet – sprained knee?
The patella tendon is another part of the knee that takes a beating. Also known as “jumper’s knee,” patellar tendonitis is the painful inflammation of the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone. This tendon supports many of the high-impact motions that are central to the game of basketball (such as jumping, running, and shock absorption). If inflammation and tendon damage are left unaddressed, a tear of the patellar tendon may result. A simple patella brace can be a great aid here!
Wraps – Quads, Hamstrings, Groin, & Hip
Deep thigh bruising (contusions) in the quadriceps is another common basketball injury, typically caused by an opponent’s elbow or knee inadvertently striking a player’s thigh muscles. Trying to play at full tilt with a deep thigh bruise can be painful to say the least!
Concerning hamstrings, the main cause of injury is muscle overload. Strains and tears happen when the muscle is lengthening as it contracts or shortens. They may also happen if the muscle is stretched too far or is taxed too suddenly.
Reasons for hamstring problems:
- Exercising with tight muscles. Athletes who have particularly tight muscles may be more likely to experience injury.
- Muscle imbalances, where certain muscles are stronger than others.
- Poor conditioning. If the muscles are weak, they’ll be less able to deal with the demands of certain sports or exercises.
- Fatigue in the muscles, because tired muscles don’t absorb as much energy.
In this same category are groin pulls. A groin strain is an injury or tear to any of the adductor muscles of the thigh. These are the muscles on the inner side of the thigh. Sudden movements usually trigger an acute groin strain, such as kicking, twisting to change direction while running, or jumping, all of which apply to a basketball player.
Not all that common, but still very possible, are hip injuries. Falling awkwardly can easily give you a hip bruise, which will inhibit your running and jumping abilities.
All four of these type of injuries can be aided by wraps of various designs.
Wrist, Hand, & Fingers
Needless to say, your hands are your golden “tools” for hoops. Once your hand takes on an injury, and especially if it’s your shooting hand – you’re watching from the bench.
Your hands are at risk in so many ways! Jammed fingers from the ball or accidently being hit by someone else. Bracing for a fall and your wrist gets damaged. Even being stepped on happens occasionally.
You can get back in the game even before these type of injuries fully heal, with the help of wraps or braces.
After the Buzzer
If you’re reading this because basketball is your game and you have sustained an injury, I wish you a speedy recovery, and that you are back on the court again asap!
If you have a story to share, or advice from a personal experience, please leave it below, and not only will I be grateful, but I will reply within 24 hours.
All the best, and aim for nothin but net! 😉