The sudden stops and jumps in a game of basketball are rough on your shock absorbers -- the knees. Soreness in the knees may be a normal side effect of enjoying a great game, but watch for the warning signs of a more serious injury before brushing off sore knees as a minor annoyance. If the soreness is accompanied by immobility, swelling or an inability to bear weight, go see your doctor. ACL tears and other cartilage tears are common in basketball players and may require treatment.
Get off the sore knees. Sit or lie down comfortably, placing a soft pillow underneath your knees to prevent hyperextension. You will want to stay off the knees as much as possible and avoid a ballgame for the next few days.
Place ice or a bag of frozen vegetables on each knee over the location of the pain. Leave the ice in place for up to 20 minutes. Repeat as necessary for pain relief, giving your knees 15-minute breaks without ice between applications.
Wrap the knees with elastic compression wraps for comfort. Start the wrap under the knee and work the wrap up the leg in a diagonal direction. Wrapping too tight or with a horizontal wrap can impair healing blood flow to the knees.
Stretch the muscles supporting the knees once the soreness abates, and daily thereafter. Tight muscles may lead to future injury. Warm up with a gentle five-minute jog.
Stretch the quadriceps -- the large thigh muscles -- by lifting your right ankle toward your buttocks with your right hand. Support your weight by holding on to a stationary object, such as a countertop, with your left hand. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat this on the other side.
Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you to stretch the hamstrings. Keeping your back as straight as possible, gently lean over your legs and reach for your toes with your fingertips. Stop when you feel a pulling in the backs of your legs and hold this position for 30 seconds.
Strengthen the quadriceps to decrease the chances of future overuse injuries. Stand against a wall with your back flat. Step your feet about 18 inches away from the wall, keeping your buttocks in contact with the wall. Gently lower your buttocks toward the floor, as if you were sitting down, and hold this for a two count. Repeat this as tolerated.
Things You'll Need
Ice or a bag of frozen vegetables
Elastic compression wrap
Increase the intensity of your strength training by holding on to light dumbbells during your squat. Warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after a game to help prevent knee injuries.
If your soreness persists or elevates into pain, contact your doctor.