James Naismith, a PE teacher in 1891, started the game of basketball by nailing a peach basket to a wall. This is very different from the game we now know of as Basketball. However, the essential components to the game of basketball including: running, jumping, cutting, stopping, and shooting on a hard floor have remained the same. These mechanisms contribute to both chronic and acute types of injuries.
Some common chronic, or overuse, Basketball injuries include stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendonitis, sesamoiditis, and blisters. Although, most of the acute injuries cannot be prevented, many of the chronic injuries we suffer from can be prevented.
I initially want to discuss some of these chronic or over-use injuries as these are typically avoidable.
1. Stress Fractures – a fatigue-induced fracture of the bone caused by repeated stress over time.
2. Shin Splints – pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). Usually caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia. Characterized by general pain in the lower region of the leg between the knee and the ankle.
3. Tendonitis – is inflammation or irritation of a tendon — any one of the thick fibrous cords connecting muscle to bone. The condition causes pain and tenderness just outside a joint.
4. Sesamoiditis – Inflammation of a sesamoid bone, which is composed of two small bones beneath the great toe joint which are encapsulated in tendon.
Typically, these above mentioned chronic injuries can be avoided with the following preventative measures:
1. Conditioning: A separate weight-lifting regimen of both upper and lower body muscles helps minimize the impact of chronic injuries before they happen.
2. Stretching: Adequate and proper stretching exercises and gradual warm-up before competitive play.
3. Shoe-gear: Shoes should be basketball-specific, with lots of ankle support and shock absorption. Shoes should fit well and be replaced before visible wear is noticeable. In this case, you usually get what you pay for. However, just because it is the most expensive shoe does not mean it is the most supportive. Try on multiple shoes and determine which is the best fit.
4. Bracing: If you have a history of ankle sprains or are not in top shape it is probably going to be in your best interest to have the most supportive high-top shoe, as well as an ankle brace. I personally use and recommend a figure of eight ankle brace. This provides good stability and support in the frontal plane as well as still allowing you to move freely. Some people may benefit the greatest from a double hinge upright type brace for a more rigid and restrictive device.
If you are experiencing a chronic injury, reduce your activity level and start RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Typically, OTC anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are sufficient for temporary pain relief.
If pain does not resolve in a timely fashion, usually within a week, I recommend you contact your Foot and Ankle Specialist for further work-up and evaluation, which may prevent further complications.
You must allow adequate time to get over the acute inflammatory phase of healing. Secondly, you must strengthen the anatomical location of injury back to its pre-injury condition. If you do not, it will continue to remain weak and predispose you to re-injury.