Basketball Injuries + Athletic Trainers: How Can They Help?

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As basketball season ramps up into the frenzied fun finale of March Madness, the athletic trainers at St. Elizabeth Healthcare remind student-athletes about the importance of injury prevention year-round.

“We see the whole gambit of sports-related injuries in basketball, but the most common are ankle and knee injuries,” says Jeffrey Carpenter, Assistant Athletic Trainer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Northern Kentucky University Women’s Basketball team.

The most common basketball injuries can also take a long time to heal – sometimes, these injuries can even be season-enders. Frequently seen basketball injuries include:

· Cartilage damage

· Cruciate ligament sprains (including ACL)

· Meniscus tear

· Tendon injuries

If you’re injured while playing basketball, it’s essential to seek medical attention instead of just “playing through it.” Sure, it might help you finish out the game – but playing on an injured knee or ankle can cause long-term damage and add to your recovery time.

When Do Basketball Injuries Happen?

Basketball injuries can happen anytime, whether you’re shooting around in the backyard or playing for your college team.

Athletic trainers see the most significant uptick of injuries happening about two weeks after pre-season practice begins because of the increased training load at the high school and college levels. Athletes – especially freshmen – have a higher likelihood of injury as they transition from off-season workouts to more hours on the court.

Mid-season injuries are less predictable; however, athletic trainers see many wear-and-tear type injuries at the end of the season, especially in juniors and seniors.

The St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine team also sees a lot of basketball injuries from “weekend warriors” – pickup games between friends, adult basketball leagues and even playing around with your kids outside.

Can I Prevent a Basketball Injury?

There is no surefire way to prevent a basketball injury – however, the more strength training and conditioning you do, the more stable your knees, ankles and shoulder joints will be while you’re shooting hoops.

The team of athletic trainers at St. Elizabeth Healthcare is here to help. You might not realize it, but injury prevention is the most significant piece of an athletic trainer’s responsibility.

“Injuries in basketball do occur, but having an athletic trainer is an athlete’s best ally when trying to return to the sport that they love to play,” says Jeffrey. “We are always looking out for the athlete’s mental and physical health and well-being.”

Athletic trainers work daily with athletes to help prevent injury. These include:

· Bracing

· Injury education with the athletes

· Nutrition consultation

· Recovery after events

· “Pre-rehabilitation”

· Stretching

· Taping

Trainers typically have office hours and attend practices and games to triage any injuries. The goal is to get you back on the court, pain-free, as soon as you’re ready.

Multi-sport Athletes Have an Advantage

Did you know that multi-sport athletes tend to perform better and have fewer injuries than athletes that specialize in one year-round sports experience? Playing various sports helps develop a better all-around athlete and decreases the chance of missing training due to injury, burnout or decreased athletic performance.

However, while being a multi-sport athlete is beneficial for high school students, it’s a rarity once you reach college.

“At the collegiate level, it becomes much harder to play multiple sports,” says Jeffrey. “That’s where strategic cross-training, rest and recovery become the main factors of increased performance and a decreased chance of injury.”

No matter what your sports journey looks like, make sure you’re tapping into the knowledge and expertise of your school’s athletic trainer.

Connect with the St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine Team

The St. Elizabeth Sports Medicine program provides highly skilled athletic trainers to numerous local athletic programs at a high school and collegiate level. Our athletic trainers offer dedicated care to local athletes to get them back in the game and to help prevent future injuries.

For more information or to schedule a consultation appointment with our Sports Medicine Team, please visit St. Elizabeth Healthcare – Sports Medicine (stelizabeth.com).