With Super Bowl wrapping up and March Madness on the way, it seems that everyone has sports on their minds. Sports, including basketball, are a great way to stay fit and active, plus it’s a fun source of competition. However, as with all sports, there is a risk of getting injured, so before you hit the court for a pick-up game of basketball read about the most popular injuries you can get while playing and how to prevent them. 

Ankle Sprains

Professional basketball players make the game look easy as they confidently run across the court and grapple for the ball. But, even professionals get hurt. Ankle injuries, including sprains and fractures, are the most common injuries seen in basketball. If a player goes for a rebound or takes a shot and lands wrong, it can seriously injure their ankles. Other feet and ankle injuries can happen if a player gets stepped on. One way to avoid ankle injuries while playing basketball is to wear the correct gear. Basketball shoes are specially designed to keep you from slipping and will have extra support around the ankle. You can also take preventative measures by wrapping your ankle with athletic tape. While professionals make their dunks and jumps look easy, be sure to take cautionary steps to prevent hurting your ankles. 

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Basketball is a tough sport on your knees. One common knee injury for basketball players is the behind the kneecap where the thighbone and patella meet. This area can cause a lot of pain, mostly due to joint pressure and poor kneecap alignment. To prevent this injury from happening, focus on exercising your balance and practicing proper biomechanics. Yoga and pilates are helpful exercises to help build strength in those areas. Wearing a knee brace will also help prevent patella pain. 

ACL Tears

Unfortunately, patella injuries aren’t the only injury to the knee you see in basketball, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are another. While they are not as popular as patellofemoral pain syndrome, ACL tears are much more serious as they can be season-ending injuries. They mostly occur from an abrupt change in direction or by landing wrong. To prevent knee injuries, be sure to take the time to properly stretch before playing and commit to strengthening the support in your knees.

Jammed Fingers

With the ball flying right toward your hands, it’s no wonder that jammed fingers are a popular injury in basketball. Instead of the ball landing firmly in your palms, it hits the tip of your finger and injures the joint. Jammed fingers swell significantly and can cause a lot of pain. However, icing and taping the finger will help reduce the pain and keep it protected while it heals. Though jammed fingers aren’t typically a serious injury, they are still painful enough that you should avoid them. Preventing jammed fingers starts with simply being more aware of the ball as you catch, pass, steal, and dribble. This way you are more mindful of where to expect the ball to hit your hands. 

Hip Strains

While watching a basketball game, you can see the strain that athletes are putting on their hips by pivoting, running, and jumping. Overworking the hips can cause players to become susceptible to several different injuries, including hip strains. Hip strains are mostly caused by contact or by over-extending muscles. Either way, you can prevent injuries to your hips by stretching them before you play. 

If you find yourself experiencing any of these injuries, visit a doctor or an orthopedic surgeon near you to discuss your treatment options.