March Madness: Avoiding Injury in Basketball

March Madness: Avoiding Injury in Basketball

Austin V. Stone MD, PhD

As basketball tournament play heats up, it is extremely important to protect the athlete's health and the health of the team. The wear of the lengthy basketball season takes its toll on athletes and the fatigue places them at higher risk for injury. Late season performance is often dependent on year-round preparation and training. We will look at a few strategies to reduce injury risk.

Strength and endurance are extremely important for basketball performance. Hip, knee, and core strength help reduce injury in youth, elite and professional basketball players. Poor hip, knee and core strength increases lower extremity injury risk and decreases performance1-4. Specific training programs are effective at reducing injury risk for youth and professional players alike5-9. These programs teach jump and landing mechanics, neuromuscular control (brain-muscle connections), ankle stability, and effective movements.

Proper warm-ups are important for activating the body’s mind-muscle connection. Dynamic warm-ups involve controlled movements and help the body prepare for activity. Warm-up activation sequences can reduce injury risk and increase performance2, 8, 10-12. These warm-up programs can be performed year-round and are important to be integrated at all levels of play.

Whole body conditioning and strength training are effective at increasing performance and preventing injury. Generalized conditioning is important for game endurance, but conditioning and work capacity lead directly to better shooting performance13. Running and agility exercises are often utilized, but alternative plans such as battle rope training programs, increase multiple fitness aspects and shooting accuracy14. Core strength training increases performance in basketball players15. Plyometric activities have long been used to improve athletic performance and increase agility and power in basketball players16. All these training strategies can be readily incorporated into current programs to protect players and improve performance.

Several approaches should be combined to keep players and teams healthy. Proper rest, nutrition and recovery should be the top priorities for any athlete. General and sport specific conditioning programs should be the foundation for performance. These principles form the basis for healthy and enduring athletic performance.

Austin V. Stone MD, PhD is a board-certified Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine.


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