How to avoid knee pain while playing basketball

For those that love playing basketball, staying on the court and producing is the number one priority. Playing through knee pain is a way of life for basketball players, but the same can cause long-term injuries that can keep you on the bench for far longer than you would like. Pushing through the pain during a game is customary, but identifying the problem’s true cause and making sure you avoid knee pain while playing basketball in the future will ensure long term success on the court.

The knee consists of the bottom of the femur (or the thigh bone) and the top end of the tibia (or the shinbone). The patella (or your kneecap) slides into a groove that is located at the base of your femur. Ligaments that run from the thigh bone to the region of the shinbone connect those bones and provide support for the knee, keeping it stabilized and supported. Knee cartilage also provides protection in that it cushions the kneecap when fast movements are undertaken.

At the first moment that you feel pain in your knee, evaluate it on a scale of one to ten. If the pain is closer to a ten, you should immediately remove yourself from active competition to take any and all pressure off of your knee.

If the pain is less than a five and you believe you can handle it on a temporary basis, the following are some tricks of the trade that you can employ to stay on the court.

1.  WARM-UP

If you normally have knee pain when playing basketball, warming up beforehand is a must. Light jogging and static stretching are recommended since they open up your range of motion and prevent stiffness and pain during activity. By properly warming up and stretching, you will warm up “cold” muscles since they are far more likely to become injured than muscles that have been properly stretched before the game begins.

2.  ROLL

Buy a tennis ball, stick or a foam roller and start rolling your hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes and IT-band (in essence, any muscles that are connected to the knee). This loosens up any tight muscles which may be subject to injury during a game. After rolling, stretch the muscles that surround the knee so as to keep them loose.

3.  ELECTRIC MUSCLE STIMULATION

An electric muscle stimulation (EMS) device machine is an excellent way to supplement stretching and rolling. This procedure sends tiny pulses of electricity through the nerves in an effort to activate muscles. This causes the muscles to contract and strengthens imbalanced muscles. The EMS device has helped many athletes to realize increased blood flow. Other benefits of EMS are building muscle strength, flushing lactic acid and increasing blood flow. It is common to see athletes who are taking a breather on the bench using an EMS device to keep blood flow circulating so that it strengthens any muscles that may be weak in the region of the knee.

Doctors who practice Physiotherapy employ the EMS procedure. Their goal is to treat patients so that they can restore function and mobility in joints, ligaments and tendons. Physiotherapists in Singapore work with their patients to help them avoid injuries, press through what is sometimes arduous physical rehabilitation and to improve their overall fitness and health. The Singapore Institute of Technology is a leader in this field and can be contacted for those with such a need at www.singaporetech.edu.sg.

4.  COMPRESSION

A highly effective method employed when easing chronic pain is compression. Oxygen that contains blood is pumped by the heart to muscles that are working in the body by way of the arteries. Once the oxygen is used by the cells, deoxygenated blood is returned to the heart. When the blood returns to the heart, it is re-oxygenated from the lungs. The process then repeats. By compressing the area, the oxygenated blood remains in the region of the muscles, which prevents lactic acid from building up (a known cause of soreness and muscle fatigue). During a basketball game, wearing a compression brace keeps inflammation down and prevents pain.

5.  PROPER EQUIPMENT

Making sure that you are utilizing the proper equipment is key. For instance, make sure that your sneakers offer proper support for your muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. They should be non-skid sneakers and have support for the ankles. Wearing protective elbow and knee pads also will cut down on injury.

6.  ADEQUATE REST

Playing a sport year round can lead to pain and injury. This is known as an “overuse” injury and they are becoming very common among younger athletes. This is because there is a focus on the same region of the body over and over again for an extended and repeated period of time. When an athlete does not diversify the sports in which they compete, it is easy for an overuse injury to occur. In an effort to prevent these types of injuries, athletes should diversify the different sports in which they compete. This ensures that different groups of muscles are worked at different times.

You can avoid knee pain while playing basketball if you employ these simple techniques. Playing basketball is a popular pastime and is great exercise, but there is some risk that comes with it. Knee pain affects almost every athlete, and that is why proper stretching prior to exercise is imperative. If knee pain persists, seeking the help of a medical professional is advisable. A course of physical therapy may be necessary at that point; wearing a knee brace also is advisable. In all, as long as you can manage the discomfort and employ the methods set forth above, you should remain on the court and be productive and pain-free for a sustained period, which is the goal of every athlete.