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March 26, 2013

Orthopaedic Surgeons Want Basketball Players to Shoot for Success, Not Injuries, This Season

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Basketball season is in full effect and orthopaedic surgeons want athletes and other basketball enthusiasts across the country to follow the proper safety guidelines to avoid a visit to the emergency room.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), nearly 1.5 million basketball injuries, in children and adults were reported in 2011.
Ankles sprains, knee injuries and foot fractures are some of the most common injuries in basketball, and over the last several months, we’ve seen many of these injuries in NBA athletes such as Derrick Rose, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, Kobe Bryant who experienced an ankle sprain and most recently Joakim Noah’s plantar fascia injury and Kevin Garnett’s ankle injury.  
“Basketball injuries come in many forms, whether caused by overuse or traumatic circumstances,” said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Douglas Alan Flory, MD. “Proper preparation for the game such as wearing the right protective gear and maintaining fitness year round helps to decrease the risk for injury.  However, if injured, it is critical to know when to safely return to the game to avoid worsening the injury or re-injury.”

As part of the AAOS Prevent Injuries America! ® Campaign, orthopaedic surgeons would rather prevent injuries than treat them. Consider the Academy’sbasketball safety tips:

  • Wear appropriate equipment. Shoes should fit snugly and offer support. Ankle braces can reduce the incidence of ankle sprains in patients with a history of injury (this should be discussed with your doctor); protective knee and elbow pads can protect players from bruises and abrasions. Consider wearing a mouth guard. Do not wear jewelry or chew gum while playing.  Other helpful equipment may include eye protection, ankle braces or sports tape.
  • Ensure a safe play environment. Outdoor courts should be free of rocks, holes and other hazards. Players should avoid playing on outdoor courts that do not have appropriate lighting. Indoor courts should be clean, free of debris and have good traction. Baskets and boundary lines should not be too close to walls, bleachers, fountains or other structures. Basket goal posts, and the walls behind them, should be padded.
  • Maintain fitness throughout the year. Ideally, players should maintain an exercise and training regimen during the basketball season, and throughout the year.
  • Warm up before play. Consistent warm up and stretching exercises may reduce injuries. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling, or running or walking in place for three to five minutes. This should be followed by slow and gentle stretching, holding each stretch for 20-30 seconds.  Stretches should focus on the legs, spine, and shoulders.  A player should also stretch after their practices or games.
  • Safe Return to Play. An injured player's symptoms must be completely gone before returning to play. The player must have no pain, no swelling, full range of motion, and normal strength and should be cleared by the appropriate medical provider.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild levels of dehydration can hurt athletic performance.  Ideally, players should drink 24-ounces of non-caffeinated fluid two hours before exercise, and additional 8-ounces of fluid or sports drink immediately before play. While playing, break for an 8-ounce cup of water every 20 minutes.
  • Use proper passing and play techniques. Practice good technique. For example, when you jump for the ball, land on a bent knee rather than a straight knee. Play only your position and know where other players are on the court to reduce the chance of collisions. Do not hold, block, push, charge, or trip opponents. Use proper techniques for passing and scoring, and most importantly, don’t forget sportsmanship!
  • Prevent overuse injuries.  Because many young athletes focus on just one sport and train year-round, doctors are seeing an increase in overuse injuries. The AAOS has partnered with STOP Sports Injuries to help educate parents, coaches, and athletes on how to prevent sports injuries. STOP Sports Injuries recommends limiting the number of teams in which your child is playing on in one season. In addition, do not let your child play one sport year round; taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.



A Nation in Motion
More than one in four Americans have bone or joint health problems, making them the greatest cause of lost work days in the U.S. When orthopaedic surgeonsrestore mobility and reduce pain, they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Orthopaedic surgeons provide a great value, in both human and economic terms; and access to high-quality orthopaedic care keeps this “Nation in Motion.” To learn more, to read hundreds of patient stories or to submit your own story, visit

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STOP Sports Injuries
About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons



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