By: Mike Evangelist, PT, MSPT
Basketball is a beautiful game. It is a game endeared by many Americans, and a sport that has grown considerably around the world in countries and continents where it was once an afterthought. The NBA and college game are now filled with high level international players that bring a different flare to the sport.
But the best part about basketball, is that we can keep playing long into our adulthood. Adult leagues are popular throughout the United States, ranging from 25+ league, 50+ leagues, men’s, women’s, and co-ed! Adult leagues often have different divisions based on skill level and desire for competition, making it available to all that want to play. As a weekend warrior, it is a perfect game, but also a game that you must prepare your body for to avoid injury.
Basketball requires many different movements, including jumping, running, cutting, pivoting, overhead reaching, shooting, and catching. We use our lower body and core consistently throughout game play, requiring significant demand from our calves, quads, hamstrings, gluts, and core musculature. The surface of a basketball court is either hardwood (indoor), or pavement/cement(outdoor). This puts a tremendous of strain on our muscles, ligaments, and joints, making preparation that much more important.
Some of the most common injuries seen in adults can range from overuse injuries such as achilles tendinitis, patellafemoral syndrome, patellar tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, to more serious injuries such as muscle strains/tears, ACL/MCL ligament tears. And the worst of all is the feared achilles tendon rupture. Statistically, men 45-55 year old are the most prone to an achilles tendon rupture. This injury automatically requires surgical intervention and rehab for 6-9 months. Who plays in most of these Adult basketball leagues….yes, you guessed it!
Exercises to Help Avoid Injuries While Playing Basketball
How do we prepare our bodies for the demands of basketball? As always, a dynamic warmup before practice or game is essential. On off-days from basketball, strengthening exercises for your gluts, quads, and calves are very important! We don’t jump at work every day (most of us), but we do need to jump 50-100 times during a basketball game. Everything stems from our core and gluts, these exercises are very effective and easy to perform with just your body weight:
- Side Planks
- Bicycle kicks
- Boat Pose
- Bridging (double to single leg)
- Split Squats
- Functional Squats
Calf strength is also very important for jumping, specifically preparing for the landing portion of the jump. Eccentric calf raises are a great exercise for this movement (up with 2 feet, down with 1 foot).
Agility and lateral movement is also a requirement of playing strong defense in basketball. Straight road running and going for a walk will not prepare us appropriately. Instead, utilize cone drills or ladders to work on your agility and quickness. Side to side, front to back, and sharp cut/pivots on each foot will prepare you to play stellar defense in your next game.
Lastly, our muscle pliability will give us more muscle endurance and decrease our chances of muscle strains and tears. Yoga classes, or just individual poses if you are against taking classes, are extremely effective. Down dog, Warrior 1 and 2, and reverse triangle are excellent poses to improve our mobility. And my favorite dynamic stretch is the World’s Greatest Stretch, composed of a spiderman lunge, trunk rotation, and hamstring stretch all in one!
It is unbelievably fun to be involved in Weekend Warrior sports such as basketball. It is something to look forward to every week, and something to look back on after you finish a game. Please spend that extra time to prepare your bodies for competition and show up 15-20 minutes early to warm-up appropriately. See you on the hardwood, have fun out there!
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