Basketball Injury Prevention
Darren Lunow, M.Ed., ATC, LAT, certified athletic trainer and coordinator of Central States Orthopedics’ Sports Medicine Outreach, says injuries to the lower extremities including ankles and knees are prevalent among all youth basketball players – and become more gender-specific in teenagers.
“The incidence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears is identical in prepubescent boys and girls,” explains Lunow. “After puberty, girls are six to seven times more likely to tear an ACL than their male counterparts.”
Lunow says much of it comes down to physical strength and landing mechanics.
“The key is to land softly with the knees straight ahead, on one’s toes, and bent at an approximately 45-degree angle,” says Lunow. “Men seem to do this more naturally.”
Lunow says both male and female student basketball players can benefit from lower extremity coordination and agility training to help reduce the likelihood of basketball injuries. He recommends three exercises student athletes can perform on their own.
- Agility ladders
- Jumprope exercises
- Dot drills
“These activities are great for young people because they don’t require them to pay anything or go anywhere,” he says. “They can do these on their own and be accountable for their own improvement and increased safety.”
To help keep players safe, Lunow also says student athletes should not hesitate to wear an ankle or knee brace when needed. He says the common myth that wearing a brace will make that particular joint weaker is inaccurate in this context. While atrophy may occur when a joint is braced around the clock, for example, wearing a brace during games and practices – when the joint is under greater demand – will not weaken the joint, but rather protect it.
“The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially relevant in sports medicine,” says Lunow. “We can’t prevent every injury, but we can certainly reduce their likelihood through training and protection.”
The sports medicine physicians and the sports medicine staff at Central States Orthopedics serve student athletes and their families with prompt answers to questions, fast appointment times and expert care.
“We’re here for our parents and coaches when they need us,” says Lunow. It’s one of the most important things we do at Central States Orthopedics.”