Although Basketball may not be the most violent sport out there, there’s something about having these seven-foot-tall giants run around a hardwood court that produces a high quantity of injuries. Newton did put it best: what goes up must come down. Gravity and physics are most often what afflict the NBA’s players. A hard cut, falling awkwardly on your ankle, or simply going up for a contested rebound are most often how players get good ball stories, but they can also get some rather nasty injuries as well.
However, the NBA and all professional sports nowadays are taking very proactive measures to prevent serious injuries. Raised awareness and additional protective gear are all being made available to players in order to help them stay on the court. Ankle and knee braces, mouth guards and facial protectors are all constantly being improved in order to keep the stars on the court, and the fans in the seats.
However, it’s not always that easy to keep athletes healthy. Even after extensive rehab and treatment, players are still just at risk as they were. Just ask Derrick Rose… After overcoming a devastating ACL tear, Rose came back the next year and tore his meniscus in his other knee only four games into the new season. Not only is Rose’s health questionable, but so is his NBA future after two injuries that nobody would ever have been able to come back from only 25 years ago. But beyond Rose’s misfortune, there are lots of other injuries that are all too common to basketball players.
*Note: These rankings are based on a study by the Sports Health Journal
10 Torn ACL
While tearing your ACL is a very serious injury, it isn’t the most common one in Basketball today. Unlike other sports like football, players aren’t falling into one another’s knees very frequently in basketball. However, jamming your knee in the court while making a cut is very common, which ultimately can lead to ACL damage. Only ten NBA players tore their ACL’s in 2013, which is an alarming increase from previous years. But ten across the entire league isn’t that bad, considering the staggering amount of ACL tears in the NFL. But one thing is certain, professional athletes are getting bigger, but their joints and tendons aren’t necessarily keeping up.
9 Facial Cuts/Broken Nose
How many times have we seen a center go up for a rebound, come down with it, and have to shake off defenders trying to take it from him? All too often, elbows and forearms are flailing around uncontrollably, which ultimately leads to broken and bloodied noses and serious facial lacerations. Not only that, these injuries often force players to play with protective facemasks. Just ask LeBron James who had to rock a plastic face shield in order to step back onto the court. Others also wear it simply as a preventive measure, like Rip Hamilton. From Detroit to Chicago, Hamilton wore his face shield with pride.
8 Shin Splints
An increased or prolonged stress on anybody’s tibia can lead to Shin Splints. The additional stress causes a bowing in the tibia every time impact is made on the leg. So you can imagine that practicing and playing for extensive periods of time on hard wood floors can easily lead to players coming down with serious cases of Shin Splints. Not only that, but the athletes in basketball are much taller and heavier than the average person, which means that an even greater weight is being put on the shins. Unfortunately, the only way to deal with this is time and rest.
7 Jammed Fingers/Finger Sprains
It’s one of the most common injuries across all sports, but unfortunately it’s also the one that your teammates will give you the most grief for. Jamming your finger on another player or even catching the ball is all too common in basketball. Of the roughly 3,000 injuries reported in a Sports Health Journal study over a 17-year period, approximately 320 of those injuries were finger sprains. Now that may seem unimpressive, but it’s still rather significant. That also means that 320 poor souls had to deal with their teammates’ ribbing about their injury.
6 Deep Thigh Bruising
Remember Newton? “What goes up must come down”. Down it comes, indeed. If the rim is 10 feet tall, and the players jumping up to the rim weight north of 200 pounds each, you can imagine that when they don’t stick the landing, well… Let’s just say that something has to give. Formally known as thigh contusions, deep thigh bruising is one of the most common and also one of the most irritating injuries out there because all it needs to heal is time. To any true competitor out there, sitting by and doing nothing is definitely not what you want to be doing.
5 Knee Sprain
With the high impact that Basketball puts on a player’s knees, it’s understandable that sprains would find a place on this countdown. Sprains are also far more common than complete tears because they can be caused by any kind of false movement. But don’t be fooled, third degree sprains can often involve tears of certain ligaments, which can turn out to be just as bad as an outright ACL tear. But what’s worse than getting a sprain, is healing it: time off and a lot of ice. The strain on the ligaments often brings a lot of swelling, which is the reason for the ice, and time off will allow the ligaments to heal up properly.
4 Groin Strain
Straining or even pulling your groin is another injury that hampers a great deal of athletes. Since the groin is used is one of the most used muscle groups of the body during a running motion, it’s understandable that it would strain every once in a while. Basketball players put it under much duress with all the starting, stopping and jumping motions they do. A lack of a good warm up will enhance the odds of an athlete getting a good old groin strain. Even worse is having treatment on your groin due to the, uh, sensitive area it’s located in.
3 Hamstring Strain
To keep the strain streak rolling, the third most common injury on this list is the hamstring strain. Also involved in the running motion, especially when the leg comes down on the surface, the hamstring is one of the most frequent running injuries. Not only that, but the hardwood flooring just adds to the violent impact that basketball players’ hamstrings already have to endure. Basketball and track athletes are the most at risk because of just how hard the surfaces are, and because of the exertion put on the hamstring.
2 Lumbar Strain
Unfortunately, lower back pain haunts every single athlete out there. Your lower back is constantly at risk for impacts, either with someone else, or with the ground. Basketball players for example have some serious lower back issues because they are constantly jumping up and down. Rebounding, or even coming down after a jump shot can put some serious strain on a player’s lower back. But add to that the height and weight they carry, Basketball players are definitely more high-risk than your average person.
1 Ankle Sprain
This is the most common injury for basketball players. The lateral ankle sprain is all too common when a player cuts and his ankle rolls over his foot, or when a player rebounds a ball and comes down awkwardly on his ankle. Players at all levels line up in their athletic therapist’s clinic to get their ankles taped to try and avoid this kind of injury. Not only that, but basketball shoes usually are high tops to give additional ankle support to the athletes. But with all the weight and force being put on the ankles and other joints, basketball players are bound to suffer some kind of ankle injury once in their lives.