How to Stay Injury-Free This Season
1. Stretch the front of your hips
We spend so much time sitting in chairs everyday that the front of our hips get super tight and pull our pelvis out of its ideal alignment. Sitting can cause our glutes to get lazy and shut off which isn’t favourable for either athleticism or injury prevention. Holding a basic lunge position for a couple minutes after long periods of sitting, practices and games is a good place to start.
2. Ditch the basketball shoes outside the gym
Wearing bulky basketball shoes all day inside and outside the gym can give our ankles so much support they no longer feel the need to be strong on their own. Spending more time in less restrictive footwear, or even barefoot, can give your feet and ankles a chance to get strong again.
Taking 5-10 minutes to do some dynamic stretches, get our heart rate up and prepare your joints for the wide variety of positions basketball requires is a great way to reduce injuries. Try to avoid holding static stretches before practices and games as this may relax the muscles too much and increase the odds of injury.
4. Work on ankle dorsi flexion everyday
There is research out there that says the further we can get the knee over the toes, the less incidence of knee injuries. The movement of pushing your knee past our toe is called ankle dorsiflexion and we need a good degree of this to run and jump effectively. We can work on this movement with the knee to wall drill. When performing this drill you should make sure you don’t have a collapsed arch in our foot. Aim to track the knee over the second or third toe. This is a great exercise to include in your warm-up.
5. Cool down
Taking 5-10 minutes to do a cool down is great way to help our body begin to recover from a practice or game. As opposed to the warm-up, the cool down is a perfect time for holding static stretches and getting our heart rate down with some controlled breathing. Both of these goals can be achieved in the position below. Hanging out in this position for a couple minutes and doing some deep breathing is a good place to start a cool down.
6. Lift weights
Strong muscles help protect your joints from injury. When it comes to basketball, strong glute and thigh muscles are particularly important to take stress off the knees and ankles. Pick one lower body exercise you like such as a back squat, front squat or trap bar deadlift and try to get one good session in every week. If you have games on the weekend, it may be a good idea to take a day or two off after your games before your weight training session. This will allow your legs to recover from your games as well give your body some time to recover from the weights before your next game. For younger athletes you can do these exercises with just your body weight or light dumbbells.
7. Get some sleep
Sleep is the most important time when your body recovers from the physical stress of basketball and weight training. Ideally you get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Naps are a great way to make up for a lack of sleep as well. Just be careful about napping after 3pm as this can make it more difficult to fall asleep again at night.
This post was written by Right Way coach, Sean Stoqua, who currently plays for the University of Ottawa Gee Gees Men's Varsity Basketball Team and is currently completing his Master's in Physiotherapy Degree.