Whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior here are some tips to prevent injuries on and off the court!
With our Men’s and Women’s UNC Asheville Bulldogs both in the NCAA Tournament this year, I thought I’d shed light on an important subject at this time of year. Injury prevention and improving recovery for the collegiate basketball athlete.
Basketball is a very physical sport, and at this time of the season every team is beat up a bit. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) over 40% of injuries are to the foot and ankle, 11% to the hip and thigh, and 9% to the knee. Acute traumatic injuries, like sprained ankles or hard falls are hard to prevent on the court, however many injuries are preventable and with a great off the court preventative program this can mean the difference between a win or a loss at this time of year.
Having worked with collegiate basketball players for close to 6 years I’ve seen what their bodies endure on a daily basis and how physical the sport actually is. Much of the determining factor in an athlete becoming injured is how hard they are working off the court to recover and strengthen their body. Basketball, as I’ve said, is a very physical sport and these guys typically play year round, whether in an organized team practice or an individual team drill or just a pick-up game with teammates. These guys are literally running, jumping, and playing basketball every day of the year. It takes a toll on the body.
So, what can and should our UNC Asheville Bulldogs be doing to make sure they are performing at their peak in the NCAA Tournament:
Sleep: It’s the most important part of recovery. In the age of social media distractions, it’s also the hardest to get collegiate athletes to understand. “shut off the phone” is the hardest suggestion to give a 19-21y/o when its time to get some sleep. Sleep is so crucial to recovery as well as optimizing hormonal balance.
Eat: Again, crucial for recovery as well as providing an energy source to play at your highest level. Breakfast is the most frequent skipped meal amongst young adults, yet it’s the most crucial for establishing a high energy level throughout the day along with the right hormonal profile to increase dopamine, the hormone of drive and desire.
Electrolytes: When the body sweats or is contracting its muscles hard you lose valuable electrolytes and minerals that are needed for recovery and proper muscle contraction and relaxation. Electrolyte replacement shouldn’t just happen before and after practice it needs to happen all day long. The higher the electrolyte concentration is in the body the better the body is at recovering and shuttling waste products out and nutrients in to the cells so optimal hydration and recovery can occur at the cellular level.
Stretch and Mobility Work: By the end of the season players are beat up and their ability to recover can be diminished. Along with sleeping, eating, and hydration mobility work is crucial for allowing the muscles to recover between practices and games. From a muscle tightness, joint mobility, and recovery standpoint simply taking 10 minutes pre and post practice/games to work on flexibility and joint mobility work can make the difference in how well the Athlete recovers. I’ve seen it time and time again, the ones who go the extra mile with stretching and mobility work have less severe injuries and better recovery from game to game.
Although some basketball injuries are unavoidable, many overuse injuries and decreases in performance can be prevented by better planning on the player’s part. It begins with sleeping better, eating like a champ, drinking plenty of fluids, and performing stretching/mobility work everyday. With so many games coming down to the final few minutes these 4 habits alone can mean the difference between a win or a loss.
Brent Myers D.C., CCSP
Myers Chiropractic & Functional Health