One of the very best sports to play deep into an athlete’s life is basketball. Whether playing a casual pickup game or an organized full-court league, basketball can keep your heart rate up and help you burn away some extra calories, which can be an enormously positive part of an adult’s regular schedule.
But even though it can be great to unleash your competitive nature on the court, pausing to consider the injury risks before tip-off can make the difference between staying healthy and being laid up on your couch. With a simple regiment and some veteran moves, basketball can remain a healthy way to get in some exercise without it feeling like work. For those ready to head back to the court or pickup basketball for the first time, here is a guide to what you should keep in mind.
Common Injuries to play through and which ones you shouldn’t.
Anyone who has consistently played sports can tell you that minor injuries are simply part of what you sign up for, as the general chaos of a sport like basketball guarantees the occasional bump or bruise. But knowing the difference between playing through a bit of pain and ignoring an injury is essential to maintaining your health on the court. One of the most common basketball injuries is a jammed finger, which can be very painful and last a couple of weeks to fully heal. However, if you’re experiencing extensive pain, heavy bruising or numbness in your finger, it could be a sign that you actually have a fracture or a dislocation. In this case, fighting your way through so you can play in your league’s playoffs is probably not the best of ideas.
There’s a similar dance with common injuries to ankles and knees as well. While the symptoms for a sprain (e.g. pain, swelling and bruising) can be virtually the same as a strain, a sprain is an injury that you can quickly recover from while a strain indicates crucial damage to the muscle or tendon instead of the ligaments. With a sprain, you should start to see an improvement somewhere in the window of 24-72 hours, which can indicate whether you’re on the mend or need to seek out medical attention. Another injury that can often go overlooked is a concussion, which isn’t as prominent with basketball as in some sports but can still easily happen by taking an elbow in the head or running into an opponent. With any dizziness, nausea or blurred vision, you should be consulting your physician before even thinking about heading back onto the court.
Effective gear doesn’t have to be flashy.
Many younger players never want to imagine the days of having to wear knee or ankle braces, yet there’s a reason why so many make the transition when playing into adulthood. Particularly if you’ve had a major knee injury, finding the right knee brace can have a huge impact not only for the physical support of the knee but the confidence that goes along with it. Although a knee brace certainly won’t guarantee an injury-free season, the extreme range of braces available today can help give you the exact level of assistance you and your physician believe is necessary. For those who have had minor knee issues but are not interested in a full brace, knee sleeves are also very popular and can help control swelling and pain associated with athletic activity.
Even if you haven’t had any significant injuries, it’s still vital to find the right pair of sneakers to make sure that it stays that way. While LeBron James and Candace Parker might want to show off some of the hottest styles in basketball shoes, non-professionals just need to focus on having enough ankle support and being able to make cuts without any foot pain. If you’re not someone who needs to wear the latest line of basketball shoes, you can even find a very good value by picking up brand new sneakers from the previous season or two. Lightweight back and ankle braces can also provide an important boost of support without slowing you down, making them well worth consideration if you’ve had issues in the past.
Pregame and postgame routines.
Full-court basketball can be one of the most intense aerobic workouts available, which is why you need to start prepping your body long before game time. Especially if you’re playing in an outdoor league where it’s warm, you need to begin pushing fluids early in the day and many athletes will even begin hydrating a day or two before a big game or event. There’s certainly nothing wrong with drinking water, although other options like hydration drops or coconut water can also be a great way to get electrolytes without the high sugar content of the most popular sports drinks. Additionally, it can be a great idea to eat fruits that are heavy on the water content, with bananas, strawberries and oranges all standing out as helpful options for game day.
Once you’re hydrated and read to roll, putting together a light and simple aerobic routine is all you need to get your muscles loosened up. Jogging (forwards or backwards) as well as jumping jacks and skipping can all be an easy way to get the blood flowing the correct way before you focus on stretching. There are all kinds of different stretches that you can utilize, but the important thing is that you take your time and make sure that you fully stretch out the crucial muscles like quads, hamstrings, calves and shoulders. A lot of stress is also placed on the back as well in basketball, making it crucially important to find a stretch that you like. Regardless of whether you’ve had ankle problems or not, working some quick ankle stretches into your routine can also help ensure that your ankles remain in tip-top shape. After a game, taking a few minutes to cool down and repeat pregame stretches can go a long way in helping you recover, particularly for older hoopsters.
The right league for you.
One of the best parts about basketball is that it can take so many different forms, which can keep players in the game long past their physical prime. While anyone with the energy for full-court should certainly sign up, there are many other leagues that offer competition on shortened courts to take away a little of the strain. There are also plenty of half-court leagues and tournaments that are particularly good for new players or for those who haven’t played in a while, although they can still get every bit as competitive as full-court leagues. That’s why knowing the level of competition before signing up is also very important, as playing in a hyper-competitive league can bring a raised level of injury risk for anyone looking for a more casual experience.
So what happens then if you do get injured during the game? One of the best emergency protections you can put in place is an accidental injury insurance plan. These plans are inexpensive and cover a wide range of medical expenses. The plans do not have deductibles and they pay the cost of your expenses in cash regardless of the medical insurance coverage you do or do not already have in place. The cash you receive from the accidental injury insurance plan can then be used to pay medical bills, cover medications, or simply pay the bills until you are back on your feet.
Would you like to learn more about accidental injury insurance before you take that giant leap into the world of basketball? If so, we encourage you to contact us here at Emerge. We can help get you covered in no time at all, so you can hoop your heart out without a care in the world.