Common Basketball Injuries of the Lower Limbs

Common Basketball Injuries of the Lower Limbs

Basketball injuries of the lower extremity are often associated with sudden spurts of intense movements that are required to overcome an opponent’s position during the game.

The physical demands of the sport place a significant level of stress on the musculoskeletal system of the players, with the ankle reported to be the most common site of musculoskeletal trauma, followed closely by the patellofemoral complex, the tibiofemoral joint and the lumbar spine.

Inflammation of the patellofemoral complex accounts for a number of missed practices and games, which according to a review by Chad Starkey of Ohio University, reflects the physically intense nature of the game and the age of its participants.

The two types of lower limb injuries normally seen on a basketball court can be broadly categorised as – acute injuries and repetitive stress injuries.

In their epidemiological study of basketball injuries during one competitive season, Cumps et al. defined acute injuries as, “a basketball accident with a sudden, direct cause/onset, which required at least minimum (medical) care including, e.g. ice, tape, etc. and which caused the injured player to miss out on at least 1 training or game session.”

Repetitive stress or overuse injuries include any physical discomfort which causes pain or stiffness in the joints, muscles or ligaments, and which persist during and/or after the basketball activity.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Shahi et al. evaluated the prevalence of intrinsic risk factors among elite football and basketball players both, with or without a history of acute or recurrent ankle sprains.

By assessing 106 professional football and basketball players, the authors were able to determine that internal factors such as laxity of the lateral ankle ligaments, balance and ankle plantar flexion were related to acute or recurrent lateral ankle sprains in athletes.

This finding has important implications in the formulation of effective preventative strategies which should include conditioning and strengthening of the vulnerable areas while providing sufficient time for recovery and rest.

High-intensity manoeuvres such as lateral shuffling and sidestep cutting place a considerable amount of stress on the lower limbs because of the sudden deceleration and acceleration of the body.

This produces excessive ground reaction forces causing torque or shear stress on the ligaments and soft tissues of the lower extremity, and increasing the chances of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament tear and ankle sprain.

As rightly stated by McKay et al., this makes it necessary to identify appropriate jumping and landing techniques and train the athlete accordingly in order to protect the individual from incurring these type of injuries in future sessions.

The same study identified a history of ankle injury as being one of the strongest indicators of ankle injuries in the game; players with a history of ankle injury were determined to be five times more likely to sustain an ankle injury than a non-injured athlete.

In order to restore neuromuscular control of the ankle and consequently the postural stability of the individual, the athlete could be prescribed an orthotic intervention after a thorough gait analysis to identify loss of range of motion and balance in the lower limbs.

Altered kinematics leads to an abnormal distribution of plantar pressure in the foot, with more weight being concentrated in the lateral aspect of the foot while walking, indicating the need for structural and functional realignment.

MASS4D® orthotics enhances the proprioception process necessary for postural improvements in addition to reducing compensatory movements of the body which optimally positions the lower limbs and provides more strength potential to the peroneal muscles responsible for improving ankle range of motion.

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  1. Shahi P. H. M., Farzin H., Angoorani H., Mirshahi M., Mansournia A. M. (2016) P-80 Are selected intrinsic risk factors more prevalent among elite football and basketball players with history of acute or recurrent ankle sprain? British Journal of Sports Medicine 50: November 2016, doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-097120.133
  2. Richie Jr. D. (2013) A Closer Look At Foot Orthoses For Chronic Ankle Instability. Podiatry Today: May 2013, Vol. 26, No. 5. Retrieved from:
  3. Cumps E., Verhagen E., Meeusen R. (2007) Prospective epidemiological study of basketball injuries during one competitive season: Ankle sprains and overuse knee injuries. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine: June 2007, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 204-211
  4. McKay D. G., Goldie A. P., Payne R. W., Oakes W. B. (2001) Ankle injuries in basketball: injury rate and risk factors. British Journal of Sports Medicine: May 2001, Vol. 35, pp. 103-108
  5. Starkey C. (2000) Injuries and Illnesses in the National Basketball Association: A 10-Year Perspective. Journal of Athletic Training: June 2000, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 161-167

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