Basketball demands agility, speed, and strength. The quickness of the game, plus its tendency toward sudden stops, cuts, and pivots that are part of each change of direction, exposes your knees to danger.
While blown-out knees can be repaired with patellar stabilization or meniscus repair from our experts, the better strategy is to avoid injury in the first place. Knowing how to take care of your knees can extend your career and keep you off the bench.
Although David Lintner, MD, is a leader in orthopedic sports medicine, including surgical knee repair, his emphasis is on healthy play strategies, strength building, and injury prevention to keep you on the court. At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, our team at the offices in Kingwood and Houston, Texas, also offers rehab protocols for knee injuries.
What are the best ways to protect your knees? Following are a few tips for basketball players so you can keep playing.
1. Start before the season
Before your season begins, get evaluated by our team to identify and fix potential problems. We review the way you move and make recommendations for modifications to reduce your risk of injury.
An evaluation can also pinpoint areas of concern, such as misalignments in your feet or gait, that might affect your game. Of course, once you get a list of recommendations to keep your knees safe, be sure to follow them.
Also, begin your training well before the season starts. Before you hit the courts, spend time building up your agility, aerobic conditioning, and strength. The more limber, fast, and strong you are, the more able you are to resist the effects of a collision or a poor landing during the speed of a game.
2. Build strength
Strengthen and stretch the ligaments and muscles that support your knees and ankles to reduce the risk of a knee injury. Add the following exercises to your training and warm-up routines:
With a straight upper body, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step out with your right foot. Lean down into your right leg so you’re squatting on just that side. Keep the left leg and back straight. Don’t lean forward. Push off from your right foot. Repeat on the left side. Aim for 8-10 reps.
Body-weight quarter squat
From a standing position, keep your back straight and push your hips back until you reach a “sitting” position. Your knees should be at a 45-degree angle. Return to start. Do 20-30 reps.
Physioball leg curl
Lie on a mat. Place your heels on a physioball with your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your hips raised and core engaged as you roll the ball toward your body until your knees bend and the physioball rests below the balls of your feet. Return to start. Do 10-12 reps.
3. Warm up and rest up
An easy way to get injured is to work too hard. Take your rest periods, including warm-ups and cool-downs, just as seriously as you take training and play. You can also nourish the tissues that protect your knee with supportive therapies and habits, such as:
- Foam rolling
- Electric muscle stimulation (EMS)
Of course, if you do twist, strain, sprain, or otherwise injure your knee, get help as soon as possible. Early treatment can save your knee from surgery or long-term rest.
If you want a pre-season knee evaluation or need knee treatment, contact our friendly and knowledgeable staff at the nearest office by phone or the online form today.
Special message: Even if you live far from Houston, consider sending your MRI on a DVD to Dr. Lintner along with a summary of your injury and symptoms for a second opinion. If appropriate, we can schedule a video visit, review your MRI, and discuss whether surgery might be needed. Many of our patients come from far away for their surgery and rehab closer to home with close follow-up by Dr. Lintner via telemedicine.