The rate of ankle and knee injuries in basketball players is high because it’s a sport that requires a lot of cutting, pivoting, jumping, and, most of all, landing in awkward positions. Having poor mobility combined with poor movement patterns, like bending into the knees when landing from a jump instead of sitting back into the hips to absorb the force of the jump, can get you into trouble. This type of stiff landing, combined with being in an off-balanced position, is an easy way to roll your ankle or tear your ACL. Now if we combine faulty movement patterns, off-balanced landing positions, poor conditioning, and fatigue, it increases the risk even more. Finally, having a minor injury and not getting the correct rest, recovery, and care can lead to compensatory movement patterns that could cause a more serious injury further into the season.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent an injury and also maintain optimal performance during the season:
Before thinking about what you can do during the season, it is critical to have a well-rounded and strong preseason training program. Build a solid base and develop good habits during the preseason, which should then be maintained during the season.
Maintaining Your Mobility
Now, during the season the first thing to focus on before and after every game and practice is maintaining your mobility. This can be achieved by using foam rollers and trigger point balls, combined with dynamic and static stretching. Foam rolling and stretching will help speed up recovery and maintain function.
Hip and Core Strength
Next, focus on maintaining hip and core strength. When considering injury prevention, having a weak core will predispose you to becoming off-balance, leading to poor alignment and increasing your risk of ankle and knee injury. Now considering the performance side, when you decide to cross over or make a sudden change of direction, if your core and hip strength are poor your upper body will be a split second behind your legs. This creates a loss of energy and is inefficient, making it that much harder for you to keep up.
Last but not least, if you have an injury give it the proper rest and recovery. Playing with a minor injury will alter your mechanics and can lead to a more serious injury later in the season. Always remember, injury prevention training will optimize performance!
Jamie Osmak is a certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Tisch Performance Center. Jamie is a USA Track and Field Level 1 coach and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University.