Basketball is a demanding sport that requires you to run, jump and change direction quickly. Knee injuries are one of the most serious basketball injuries and can sideline a player for an entire season. Knee injuries can happen because of overuse or trauma. Your workouts should strengthen your knees and improve your movement technique, decreasing your likelihood of injury while playing basketball. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen, particularly if you have previously suffered a knee injury or have persistent or worsening knee pain.
Resistance training strengthens the ligaments that hold your knee joint together, decreasing the likelihood of a tear. It also strengthens the muscles that surround your knees and provide joint stability, like your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus medius and adductors. A well-rounded resistance-training program challenges your knees in every plane of motion and addresses strength, power and muscular endurance over the course of a training cycle. Exercises that place more weight on one leg help you improve your movement quality while you get stronger — so incorporate split squats, single-leg squats, stepups and lunges into your program. Do not progress to a more difficult exercise or increase your resistance unless you have mastered the technique of your current exercise. Consult a strength-and-conditioning professional for best results and to learn proper form for any exercise of which you are unsure.
Select compound or multi-joint, exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knees. The deadlift, performed with a barbell, has your glutes and quads act as the synergists, while your hamstrings are the dynamic stabilizers. Squats and lunges strengthen the quadriceps and calves. Work the adductors and abductors with side lunges. When all the the muscles around the patella, or kneecap, are strong, the kneecap can track more effectively when you bend your knees.
Compliment your compound exercises with isolated exercises for your quads and hamstrings. Quad extensions and hamstring curls can be performed with levers or cable pulley machines and can be executed either standing up, or for the hamstring curl, lying face down across a bench.
Exercises in the gym help you strengthen your knees and improve your movement technique, but you need to translate these improvements to the basketball court. Agility exercises using a speed ladder, hurdles and cones allow you to practice real-life movements with correct technique and in a low-stress environment. An agile athlete can also manipulate his body to avoid a situation that would otherwise result in injury. Perform these exercises under the supervision of someone who can evaluate and correct your movement technique.
- The Hughston Clinic: Common Basketball Injuries
- Essentials of Strength and Conditioning; Thomas R. Baechle, et al.
- ExRx.net: Barbell Deadlift
- ACE Fitness: Myths and Misconceptions – Squats and Lunges
- ExRx.net: Lever Leg Extension
- Brian Mac: Agility