Since its creation in the early 20th century, basketball has evolved over the years while developing from a homegrown activity to an international sport with a global following. The NBA is one of the gold standards of the sport and it’s hard missing giant billboards and commercials around the world featuring your favorite basketball stars.
Getting a game of basketball going is simple - you just need a ball and a hoop. It’s no wonder that basketball is one of the more accessible sports, played by kids on school playgrounds, casual fans at parks and recreation centers, and serious athletes in leagues. However, basketball is also a high impact sport, with lots of running, jumping, agility cutting, and stopping. Unsurprisingly, foot injuries are some of the most common injuries in the sport. In this post, we’ll be introducing foot injuries in basketball, as well as prevention and treatment tips.
Playing basketball applies incredible pressure on the feet and ankles. There are two types of injuries to the lower extremity - acute injury and chronic injury. Acute injuries occur from a sudden force or contact, while chronic injuries occur slowly and over an extended period of time.
Common lower extremity acute injuries in basketball include sprained ankles, torn ligaments, pulled muscles, ruptured tendons, and fractures. Acute injuries are harder to prevent since many are caused by landing awkwardly or contacting another player.
Common lower extremity chronic injuries in basketball include stress fractures, tendonitis, shin splints, and sesamoiditis. Chronic injuries are preventable with better warm-ups, conditioning, posture, and shoes.
Many of the tips mentioned here are related to chronic injury prevention. However, following these tips may also help reduce the severity of acute injuries. Trainers and physicians recommend stretching and warm-ups before play - consider dynamic stretching as an effective way to warm up.
Proper shoes are extremely important as well. Typically, basketball shoes are more cushioned and offer higher ankle support. If your shoes have been well-used and worn, consider replacing them to avoid chronic foot injuries. In recent years, lighter shoes with no ankle support have become popular with some players in the NBA. Think carefully before switching to one of these shoes, and consider additional support such as ankle braces if you do.
And finally, a quick note on preventing acute injuries - while many instances of contact and awkward landings aren’t fully preventable, you can lower your chances of sustaining an acute injury with wiser play. Much of that comes from observation and experience, such as being aware of other people’s feet placement while in the air to prevent a bad landing.
If an injury occurs during play, stop playing immediately! Don’t try to continue through the pain. Oftentimes right after an injury, your adrenaline is flowing and you won’t feel the pain as much as the injury suggests. It’s not worth worsening an injury for another 5 minutes on the court. Use the RICE technique for immediate treatment - rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Depending on the severity of the injury, visit your physician as soon as possible.
For chronic injuries, listen to your body to figure out the best next steps. If you’re playing on the court and an old injury flares up and starts bothering you, reduce the level of activity. If the pain gets worse, then stop playing right away and use the RICE technique. You can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce pain and swelling. Visit your physician who can better diagnose the severity and provide treatment instructions.
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