What is basketball’s impact on the body?
Basketball is a physically challenging sport that places many demands on the body. It involves much more than just running back and forth across a court – basketball requires the athlete to sprint, change direction, jump, and physically stand their ground against an opponent. When the body becomes fatigued, these skills become more difficult and many times young athletes begins to demonstrate poor form, placing an increased demand on certain parts of the body. This can lead to “over-use” injuries commonly seen in basketball players. Combine that fatigue and over-use with the physical changes of a growing athlete, and we begin to see damage to the growth plates rather than the soft tissues (muscles or tendons) that attach to them. Also, because basketball is a contact sport, we see frequent injuries due to contact with other players or falls.
What are common basketball injuries?
When young athletes are still growing, their growth plates are vulnerable to injury and overuse. This can lead to conditions like Osgood-Schlatter disease and Sever’s disease, which range from swelling of the growth plate, to actually fracturing the growth plate itself. Also, when an athlete experiences a large spurt of growth, bones grow faster than muscles can keep up with, leading to tight muscles and many times affecting movement patterns. This can change how an athlete runs, jumps, or changes direction. The most common basketball-related injuries include:
- Patellar tendonitis (commonly known as “jumper’s knee”)
- Patellofemoral pain (pain underneath the knee-cap also known as anterior knee pain and “runner’s knee”)
- Osgood-Schlatter disease (swelling at the growth plate at the top of the shin)
- Ankle sprain
- Sever’s disease (ranging from swelling to a fracture at the growth plate)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries
- Meniscus injuries
Resources for parents and coaches of basketball players
The SportsMetrics Program at Children’s Colorado is a great resource for coaches and parents of young basketball players because it teaches all athletes how to run, jump, hop and land correctly. The SportsMetrics Program can be particularly effective for basketball players due to the high demand for jumping and landing on a hard surface, like a gym floor or outdoor court. Ensuring proper form is critical to protecting the body from injury.
Learn more about our Sports Medicine Program for Young Athletes..