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Keyword: basketball

Guest post by:
Marty Travis
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

When most people think about basketball, they think about three-point shots, block shots and dunks. They usually do not consider the injury aspect of the game. According to a National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) study, basketball has the fourth-highest injury rate of any team or individual sport. I believe that injuries have a greater effect on team success in basketball than in any other sport due to the small number of quality players on each team. Most high school basketball teams have 12 to 15 team members. Of that number, no more than seven to nine get regular playing time. At smaller schools, that number may be as low as five. In high school basketball, one to two moderate injuries could ruin the team’s season.

Most high school basketball injuries are minor. The player may miss one day of practice or one game. The NATA study showed that 79.4 percent of boys’ injuries and 76 percent of girls’ injuries are minor. Moderate injuries that cause the athletes to miss eight to 21 days make up 12.4 percent of boys’ injuries and 15.1 percent of girls’ total injuries. The more severe injuries that force players to sit out for more than 21 days are 8.2 percent of boys' and 9 percent of girls’ total injuries. Looking at the statistics, there is a low risk of having more than two moderate to severe injuries per season, but believe me, it happens. After being in athletic training for over 35 years, I have seen teams go injury-free during their seasons, but I have also seen seasons ruined due to significant injuries to key players.

As many athletic trainers will tell you, most basketball injuries involve ankle sprain. The NATA study showed that 38.3 percent of boys’ and 36 percent of girls’ total injuries are to Basketball player in locker roomthe ankle and or foot. Most people think that knee injuries make up a high percentage, but the study showed that knees are involved in 10.3 percent of boys’ injuries and 13 percent of girls’ injuries. In my experience, most high school knee injuries involves tendinitis and patellofemoral pain, not the dreaded ACL tear that people think.

The situations for these injuries can be divided into three areas. About 35 percent of injuries happen in “loose ball situations” when players are diving from everywhere to tie the ball up. I do not know this percentage for college basketball, but it must be much lower because ball handling and passing skills are much better and there are fewer “loose balls.” The second situation when injuries occur is during regular play (about 30 percent) and the third is during rebounding (about 28 percent). With the latter two, I have seen mostly ankle injuries caused by either stepping on or getting stepped on another player. I have also seen many facial lacerations and eye injuries during rebounding situations.

Even though ankle sprains are the most common basketball injury, the athletic trainer must be prepared for anything. In my 35-plus years in athletic training, I have evaluated and treated almost every kind of injury from head to toe. I have seen concussions, lacerations, sprains, strains, dislocations, asthma attacks, panic attacks and many more injuries and illnesses. So when an athletic trainer is covering basketball, you must be ready for much more than ankle sprains.

Guest Post by

Kathleen Choate, ATC, CSCS, CEAS
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

             One of the most common injuries incurred by high school basketball players is an ankle sprain.  Many athletes shrug it off as a minor injury or cross their fingers hoping it doesn’t happen to them this season.  Others invest in braces with the hope that being proactive will prevent injury.   While not every injury can be avoided, there are ways to help prevent ankle injuries.  Common ankle injuries that basketball players are susceptible to include sprains, strains, tendonitis, and fractures. 

                Another reason not to let an ankle sprain go untreated is the chance that a sprain or strain might really be a fracture.  The same injury mechanism that causes an ankle sprain or strain could also cause a 5th metatarsal or fibula fracture.  The 5th metatarsal is located on the side of the foot, and a fracture usually occurs very close to the ankle.  The fibula is a long, thin, non-weight bearing bone on the outside of the leg that runs from the ankle to just below the knee. 

                Achilles tendonitis is another injury that basketball players are at risk for.  This is an inflammation of the achilles tendon.  This tendon is located in the back of the ankle and connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel.  A sudden increase in the volume of running and jumping can cause this injury to emerge.  When running, this tendon absorbs a force up to seven times your body weight. 

                High school basketball players are also at risk for Sever’s disease.  This is an injury that may present itself very similarly to achilles tendonitis, but pain is typically felt in both heels where the achilles tendon attaches.  Athletes at risk for Sever’s disease have recently or are currently going through a growth spurt.  During the growth spurt, the bones become longer, but the muscles have not stretched at the same rate.  This extra force may cause a fracture where the tendon attaches to the bone in the back of the heel. 

                Whether the injury is a fracture or a mild ankle sprain, preventing the injury from happening in the first place is more ideal than reacting to it once it has occurred.  Prevention will keep the high school athlete from lost playing time and parents from the expense of doctor’s visits, x-rays, and rehabilitation.  Methods of prevention will address flexibility, balance, strength, and taping or bracing.

Taping/bracing:  Taping is one preventative method your athletic trainer may use to prevent re-injury of your ankle, and ideally would only be used in the short term.  Bracing is generally more effective than taping, and is more cost effective in the long-term.  Bracing is a reasonable preventative to employ for athletes with a history of ankle injuries.  There are many ankle braces on the market, and some work better than others.  Braces with a stretchy material will provide very little if any protection.  Involve your athletic trainer in choosing an ankle brace to make sure you are investing in one that will be effective.  Prevention doesn’t stop at taping or bracing the injury.  If your ankle is weak enough to require taping or bracing, then it is weak enough to do therapeutic exercises with an athletic trainer or physical therapist. 

Flexibility:  Increasing flexibility at the calf is one factor to prevent many of the above mentioned injuries.  The two main muscles in the calf to target are the gastrocnemius and soleus.  While there are several ways to stretch the calf, the following is one option.  While standing in a lunge, keep the back knee straight, back foot facing straight forwards, and the heel on the ground.  You should feel a stretch in the back of your leg.  If there is no stretch, try bringing your hips forwards.  If there is too much of a stretch or it is painful, try bringing your hips backwards.  Hold this position for an extended period, i.e. 30-60 seconds.  Next, bend your back knee slightly.  You should feel a stretch lower in the leg than the first stretch.  Remember that stretching should never be painful and there should never be bouncing.

Balance:  When an ankle is injured, the ability to balance on the affected leg is often noticeably worse than the uninjured leg.  Practicing your balance on one foot will over time make your balance better.  One study suggests that a balance training program can reduce the rate of ankle sprains by 38%. (McGuine, PHD, ATC & Keene, MD, 2006)

Strength:  All the muscles around the ankle should be strengthened, especially the calf muscles and peroneals.  To strengthen the calf muscles, start in a standing position, keep your knees straight, and rise up and down onto your toes.  Strengthening for the other ankle muscles are best taught in person by an athletic trainer or physical therapist. 

                While the above are ways to prevent injury, methods used for prevention should be determined on an individual basis.  Some of the above exercises could be inappropriate for some athletes.  Please consult with your athletic trainer, physician, or physical therapist to determine a preventative strategy specific to your needs.  


Works Cited

McGuine, PHD, ATC, T. A., & Keene, MD, J. S. (2006). The Effect of a Balance Training Program on the Risk of Ankle Sprains in High School Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 1103-1111.

Guest Post by:
Lindsey Clarke, MS, ATC, CMT
MUSC Health Sports Medicine


It’s that time of year where it’s just about time to hang up those basketball shoes or that wrestling singlet, and grab those cleats or glove. The winter sports season is ending and spring is just around the corner. While more and more high school student athletes are specializing in one sport earlier in their careers, there are still quite a few multi-sport athletes out there. It may seem that a multi-sport student athlete’s schedule is never ending, and the schedule they keep could do more harm than good. Transitioning from one season to the next doesn’t have to be as daunting and exhausting as it might seem…and playing multiple sports just might help you.

  • Many coaches are aware of multi-sport athletes and appreciate what they can bring to their team.  Coaches understand that the timing, intensity and type of physical exertion are different from one sport to the next.  There is a certain amount of adjustment for the multi-sport athlete in the early part of the season, and coaches have to be a little more patient.  Taking a different approach, and having a different mindset about how practices are set up can benefit their athletes making a transition from one sport to the next.
  • Over 7.5 million high school students participate in interscholastic athletics each year (National Federation of State High School Associations, n.d.). Proponents of high school sport programs believe these activities contribute to the overall education of students. While it may seem like students who are multi-sport athletes may be at risk for adverse affects in their class work, studies have shown that students involved in multiple sports actually have better grades, higher attendance rates, fewer discipline problems, and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors.
  • It may seem that moving from one sport to the next with little to no rest in between seasons would be physically detrimental to an athlete, but the opposite is actually true. According to an American Medical Society for Sports Medicine report, diversified sports training during early and middle adolescence may be more effective than specializing early in regards to the development of elite-level skills.  This diversification can provide benefits such as skill transfer, can aid with development of more muscle groups for a more well-rounded athlete, and lessens the chance for burnout because of expanded interest. Variety in the physical demands of sports training is often a good thing because it prevents overtraining, and it lessens the degree of physical and psychological exhaustion.  Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes.  In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr. Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University, found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports!
  • Playing conditions are also something to keep in mind when transitioning from one season to the next.  There are a number of variables that may require more attention when starting your next sport: playing surface, size of playing field, increased physical demands, number of participants, weather conditions, and equipment to name a few.  If addressed accordingly, these shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.  For example, if you ask a basketball player that is accustomed to a climate-controlled, smooth court wearing rubber soled shoes how they feel the first few days of soccer season, playing on an open-air soccer field in cleats, you might hear a few gripes! The key here is to be honest with yourself and know your limitations.  If you’re hurt, communicate with your coach and your athletic trainer. As a result, any injury that presents itself during your transition will get resolved and not plague your next season.

As an athletic trainer that provides coverage at a high school where approximately 1/3 of student athletes are multi-sport, I see my athletes deal with this constant flux year after year.  One of my senior girls shared some of her thoughts on her experiences as a winter to spring sport athlete for the past four years…

“I find it easier when I am playing different sports back to back.  It helps me focus on school work since I have a very limited time for certain things…time management is key.  The cross training is a huge help too.  Coming in with my conditioning from basketball allows me to focus more on learning the plays for lacrosse instead of trying to get in shape and change sports at the same time.  It’s also really fun.  Even though there are times I know my friends are doing things, or I feel tired, I just love playing, so really the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Guest post by:

Dr. Harris Slone, M.D.
Assistant Professor
Orthopaedics - Sports Medicine
MUSC Health

As the winter cold is ushered in, many sports fans and athletes turn their attention to basketball this time of year. The NBA season is now full swing, and NCAA March Madness is just on the horizon.  Similarly, high school and youth basketball leagues are gearing up for their season.  Unfortunately, injuries are common in basketball, despite being considered a “noncontact sport”, and ankle sprains are the most common injury in basketball.   It has been estimated that ankle sprains account for 30% of all sports related injuries, at an annual cost of 2 billion dollars to the health care system.  Basketball injuries account for about 41% of all sports related ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are commonly seen in basketball players of all skill levels.  High-profile players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant have all dealt with ankle sprains over the last few seasons. The amount of time missed following an ankle sprain is highly variable, but generally depends on the degree or severity of the sprain.

The “ankle joint” is comprised of three bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus. The bony architecture of these bone allows the “up and down” motion of the ankle.  Equally as important however, is the “subtalar joint” comprised of the talus above, and calcaneus, or heel bone below. The subtalar joint allows for most “side-to-side” motion of the ankle and hind-foot. There is an intricate ligamentous complex about the ankle, which provides static support to the ankle and subtalar joints. These are the structures which are injured during an ankle sprain. There are also numerous tendons which cross the ankle and subtalar joints, providing additional dynamic stability. 

The ligaments on the lateral side of the ankle are most commonly injured with ankle sprains. In general, ankle sprains are categorized as “low” or “high” ankle sprains.  Low ankle sprains involve the ligaments attaching below the ankle joint- most commonly the anterior tibiofibular ligament (ATFL).  On the other hand, high ankle sprains generally involve the ligaments below the ankle joint, but also the ligaments above the ankle joint which hold the tibia and fibula close together.

The most common mechanism for low ankle sprains is inversion of the foot, or “rolling the ankle”. High ankle sprains generally involve some sort of inversion injury, plus an external rotation force on the foot.  Quick changes in direction, coupled with frequent jumping and landing, lead to the high incidence of these injuries in basketball athletes.   These injuries seem to frequently occur when a player jumps and then lands on another players foot or ankle.

Many folks are familiar with ‘RICE’ treatment of ankle sprains: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, and for many ankle sprains this is sufficient.  Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and inflammation (check with your doctor before starting any medication).  I also often recommend some form of protective stabilization, depending on the severity of the sprain.  In general early range of motion and physical therapy are beneficial, and lead to quicker return to sport following ankle sprains.

Overall, basketball is a safe and fun sport!  It’s a great way to maintain one’s cardiovascular fitness, especially through the cold of winter.  Although not entirely avoidable, the risk of ankle sprains can be minimized with proper footwear, and a routine stretching program. Whether you are hitting the blacktop or hard-court, be sure to lace ‘em up tight, and in the words of my former high school coach- “put the ball on the board!”

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Guest Post by:

Stephanie Davey, ATC

March is still a few months away and the college basketball season is still young, but injuries at this time in the year can derail a teams chances of getting in and succeeding in the NCAA tournament.   Maryland Forward Dez Wells and Texas Point Guard Isaiah Taylor both have suffered wrist injuries and are both sets to miss significant time.

Dez Wells fractured his right wrist on November 25 and had surgery the following Friday.  Isaiah Taylor fractured his left wrist on November 21 when he was fouled hard while driving for a layup.   Taylor landed on his outstretched left hand.  The foul was ruled flagrant.  Both athletes are projected to return in early January and should be available for most of their respective conference schedules.

Wrist injuries account for 11 to 12% of all basketball injuries and the most common mechanism is falling on an outstretched hand.  Neither Texas nor Maryland released the specific nature of either injury, but there are a couple common wrist fractures to basketball.   The distal radius is the end of the long bone on the thumb side of the forearm and is the weaker of the two forearm bones.  Symptoms of a distal radius fracture are pain and tenderness along the bone as well as swelling through the wrist.  A distal radius fracture typically does well with a cast but surgery may be necessary if there is significant displacement of the bones.  A second common wrist fracture is the scaphoid bone fracture.  The scaphoid is a small bone located between the thumb and the wrist, also known as the “snuff box”.  Swelling located directly over the scaphoid bone is a strong indicator of a significant injury.  The athlete will also have pain and tenderness.  Treatment of a scaphoid fracture depends on the location and severity of the fracture and can include casting and or surgery.   The scaphoid bone has a poor blood supply so healing can be more difficult.  Following each injury, athletes will have to go through a significant physical therapy regime, which will likely last beyond the end of the season.  The key points of a basketball player’s wrist physical therapy program will be range of motion and strength.  For a basketball player to be effective he must have full range of motion especially in his shooting wrist and as close to full strength as possible.  The wrist also needs to be able to withstand being hit by other players and the ball as well as another fall to the ground.  Preventing wrist injuries in basketball is nearly impossible due to the contact especially at the higher levels.

Thus far, both Wells and Taylor are expected to make full recoveries from their respective injuries.  The unknown is how it will effect their playing form and their team’s chemistry from missing significant time during the season.


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