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3 tips to prevent basketball injuries in young athletes

Information provided on the blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or offer treatment plans.

It only takes one second.

But the affects are felt for days, weeks, maybe the whole season.

As we enter the halfway point during the basketball season, a common question in sports medicine is how does an athlete prevent overuse injuries?  It’s difficult, especially when ambitious young athletes want to push themselves just a little harder, a little further, but that drive–while wonderful for the most part–can cause some common injuries in basketball like knee and ankle sprains (of varying degrees).

But with proper training, rest, and good nutritional habits, the likelihood of these injuries decreases.

1. Rest and nutrition are essential aspects of training and sport participation

Overworking your body on a regular basis with little time given to proper rest, can lead to injury.  While many young athletes may be able to “power through,” it’s inadvisable to go without rest.  An average adolescent needs 8-10 hours of sleep per night.

Simply getting enough sleep doesn’t cut it either.  Adding a day of cross training benefits young basketball players by ridding their bodies of unwanted pathogens.

Hop on the stationary bike for 30 minutes on your rest day for an easy physical activity that will still keep your blood flowing and muscles active.

Sometimes, sore muscles can lead to poor form and injury.  Applying ice for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times per day will help speed up recovery time and prevent soreness and, ultimately, injury.

2.  Eat right; nutrition matters

During training and sports your muscles are broken down and need to be repaired, and the only way to get the necessary and proper nutrients for maximum recovery is through a good diet.

If your diet consists of highly processed foods (fast food), stripped of nutrients and minerals, then your body will not be able to repair itself.

Toss the junk food, save some cash, and eat foods that are rich with nutrients and minerals.   Your body will recover faster, and you’ll feel better on the court.

Need some options?  You can’t go wrong with non-processed vegetables, grains, fruits and meats.

3.  Focus on your sport, not on lifting

During a sports season the priority of an athlete’s training should be the sport itself.  It may feel like lifting programs will help you, but really, they should be kept to a maintenance phase only.

Rehabilitation can also be utilized for sore muscles to enhance recovery and decrease the chances of suffering an injury.

Bonus: Train smart to avoid negative mental impacts

Young basketball players (like almost all other athletes) compete with a team, but injuries caused by not doing the above things can cause players to feel disconnected.  If that happens, motivation and drive can be negatively affected.

Proper injury prevention techniques will help young athletes avoid those issues.

Listening to one’s body is probably one of the smartest things a young athlete can do when trying to avoid an injury.

Now, get out there and make some baskets!

(image via)

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Mark Robinson, ATC, CSCS

Mark Robinson is a certified athletic trainer and certified strength conditioning specialist, focusing in sports medicine, for OrthoIllinois. He also trains individuals and athletes with and without a variety of medical issues at Precision Sports Training and competes as a contract athlete for Running for a cause.


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