The Most Common Basketball Injuries and How to Avoid Them


Basketball season is upon us, and while there has been added excitement due to more people playing the sport, this means that there is also more of a chance of someone getting injured.  According to USA Today, basketball is one of the top 5 sports with the most injuries, and because of this, you should take extra precautions to stay as healthy as possible if you play. Many basketball injuries include sprains or strains of the knees, ankles, and shoulders – all of which can usually be prevented with the right preparation and attention.

What is the difference between a strain and a sprain?

The most important difference between a sprain and a strain is that a sprain occurs when a ligament is overstretched or partially torn, while a strain occurs when a tendon is overstretched or torn.  They have many similar signs and symptoms, including pain, swelling, discoloration, bruising, and stiffness, but a sprain will often be associated with a popping sound of the joint. Since a strain occurs when a tendon is overstretched, it is often associated with muscle weakness, cramping, and overall difficulty moving the strained area.  For more information about the differences between sprains and strains, as well as how to treat them, read our article, “Sprains versus Strains: What’s the difference?

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, you should consider the following when and before you decide to get on the court:

  • Warm up and stretch properly
  • Wear the correct shoes, and make sure they fit comfortably
  • Avoid playing or doing intense work outs when you’re tired or in pain
  • Exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy diet in order to stay in the proper condition to play basketball

How can you prevent basketball sprains and strains?

Strains and sprains are some of the most common injuries in basketball, but can potentially be prevented by following the suggestions above. Additionally, since strains are related to a muscle being overstretched, strengthening the associated muscles can help you to avoid sustaining basketball injuries. These injuries can often be fixed with the RICE technique involving Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, but in more serious cases, you should see a doctor if the pain from the injury is extreme or if it does not improve.

According to Stop Sports Injuries, the most common injuries in basketball happen to the ankles, knees, feet, and thighs. While not all basketball related injuries are preventable, strengthening the muscles around commonly sprained areas is a great start towards injury prevention. Below, we will further discuss the commonly injured areas, and what exercises you can do to help prevent injuries while you’re on the court.

Ankle Sprains

There is a lot of footwork that happens throughout a basketball game, and as a result, ankle sprains can be a large issue. However, by incorporating exercises that strengthen the muscles around your ankle, you can potentially prevent an injury. Doing exercises such as calf raises, toe-heel walks, and ankle bounces can help reinforce these muscles. The videos associated with these ankle strengthening exercises can be found on  Stack’s website.

Knee Sprains

To prevent knee sprains, you should strengthen the surrounding muscles including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. According to the Hospital for Special Surgeries, doing exercises like leg lifts, squats, and lunges, will help you strengthen these muscles, and potentially avoid an injury. Strengthening these muscles is not the only way to avoid straining these muscles, so make sure you are stretching these muscles before and after every workout. This will help lessen the likelihood of a strain caused by the overuse of these muscles.

Shoulder Sprains.

Basketball related injuries are not all associated with the lower half of the body. Sprains can come as a result of continued over-use of the area, and can ultimately have harmful effects. Shoulder sprains are often a result of over-use, particularly in basketball players, as they are constantly practicing shooting the ball into a basket well above shoulder level. Shooting repeatedly from this angle can contribute to shoulder injuries.

In order to protect your shoulders while playing, you can do exercises such as a reverse-fly, rows, and some simple doorway stretching to make sure to strengthen and stretch these muscles. According to OrthoInfo, if you want to prevent a shoulder injury, or are recovering from one, you will have to strengthen your deltoids, trapezius muscles, rhomboid muscles, biceps, and triceps- just to name a few. Since the healing process for a shoulder related injury averages between 4-6 weeks, you want to make sure you are stretching these muscles before and after your next basketball game or practice.

How Healthpointe Can Help You!

Are you experiencing a basketball related injury? Healthpointe treats basketball injuries though our Orthopedics and Sports Medicine program. Our sports medicine specialists work alongside our patients to construct detailed treatment plans catered to each individual’s needs. To find out more about programs for basketball injuries at Healthpointe, call (844) 887-7882, or visit

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shulze.

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