When playing basketball, you need to sprint, jump, move laterally, pivot and do a variety of other movements that can put a toll on your knees. The knee is the largest joint in the body, making it the most prone spot for injury. The muscles, tendons and ligaments in the area can get damaged from trauma or repeated wear and tear.
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Sprain and Strain
A sprain occurs when your knee suffers from direct trauma or if the joint is overused. Basketball involves a lot of legwork and jumping so this is likely to happen. The ligament is torn or stretched, leading to severe pain and limited range of movement. The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is the usual part affected when you sprint then suddenly stop to change direction. A sprain occurs when the muscle or tendon is torn or injured when you jump and land hard. The patellar tendon can get inflamed, thereby causing pain.
Treatment: Acute and Long-Term
When you feel pain or develop a sprain or strain, stop playing basketball at once, then apply the RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Apply ice packs on your knees for one to two days to reduce the inflammation. Apply a bandage around the knee then keep your leg elevated on a pillow. You may need to take anti-inflammatory medications and pain-relievers for a few days. For long-term knee injuries, you may be required to use crutches and undergo physical therapy to prevent scarring in the knee and return to full range of motion.
Exercises to Conquer Knee Pain
Stretching and strengthening your thighs, calves and ankles will help prevent and alleviate knee pain. To mobilize your ankle, put the front half of your foot on a slightly elevated surface. Keep your heel on the floor then drive your knee forward. Hold the position for three to five seconds then repeat. Do a total of 15 knee drives on each leg. The quadriceps flexibility exercise is done by lying on your left side on the floor. Hug your right lower leg with your left hand. Pull your left heel towards your buttocks using your right hand. Repeat the movement using the other side.
Warm up and do stretching exercises on your quads, hamstrings and calves before you play basketball. Do rotational and warm up exercises on your knees and ankles before each game. Also, wear the proper shoes that offer maximum cushioning and good traction. Wear shoes that fit well and have proper support if you have flat feet. Use a kneecap, bands and bandages as necessary to protect your knees and keep the alignment proper and intact.