Sports Physiotherapy for the Basketballer’s Knee

The game of professional basketball demands constant stops and starts, changes in direction, and twists and pivots. All of these movements are performed at a vigorous, aggressive and unrelenting pace – a pace that wreaks havoc on the bones and ligaments of the knees. Injuries are bound to happen, and when they do, the physiotherapist is the basketball player’s best friend.

The Injury: What Went Wrong

Most basketball player injuries result from either three unfortunate events:

  • A traumatic blow to the knee
  • A sudden stressful twisting movement
  • Overuse of a specific joint movement

Certain injuries, such as a blow to the knee, triggers an immediate response. Injuries resulting from sudden stressful movements or joint overuse are often insidious. The endorphins resulting from the excitement of the game act as natural pain relievers. The basketball first feels the pain after the game.

The PRICE Treatment

Injuries usually cause swelling. Healing cannot begin until the inflammation subsides. Reducing inflammation is thus the first step after injury. Most people know about the RICE treatment, which stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION. In recent years, physiotherapists have added PROTECTION, and turned the acronym into PRICE:

  • Protection might involve applying a splint or ace bandage, or using crutches.
  • Rest, for at least the first few days allows the healing process to begin.
  • Ice keeps swelling and inflammation in check. For fastest healing, apply ice as soon as possible, but do not apply it directly to your skin. Instead,  wrap the ice bag in a towel or article of clothing. Frozen vegetables such as peas or corn, are viable substitutes. Leave the ice in placed for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove it for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the process on and off throughout the day, especially during the first two days after your injury.
  • Compression helps reduce inflammation whilst adding support to the injured knee. Sports physiotherapy may include taping the knee area. It also provides some additional support to the injured area.
  • Elevation uses the forces of gravity to reduce inflammation. Keep you injured part above the level of your heart. This facilitates blood flow back to your heart.

Spotting the Symptoms

A basketball player’s uninjured body is his or her livelihood. As such, players often ignore their symptoms, and only report them when they become debilitating.  Here are some symptoms that you should not ignore!

  • Tenderness in your knee
  • A bump at the base of your knee
  • Swelling around your knee area
  • Redness in the front of your knee
  • Ongoing knee pain, particularly when running, jumping and cutting
  • Trouble kneeling and squatting
  • Difficulty walking up and down stairs

Sports physiotherapy can help you alleviate pain, and prevent these conditions from worsening.

The Therapeutic Process

A physiotherapist’s examination is the first step in the therapeutic process. Once the physiotherapist makes a diagnosis, he or she will refer the player for further investigation if required. In some cases, physiotherapy is sufficient, and the basketballer will not need surgery. If surgery is required, as usually happens during an ACL tear, sports physiotherapy will include putting the player on a “prehabilitation” program as preparation for surgery. Never underestimate the importance of prehabilitation! You will certainly lose strength and range of motion after surgery. The more you have before you go under the knife, the easier it will be to get it back after the operation.

Sports physiotherapy for basketballers has some side benefits. The stretching and strengthening exercises, along with the deep muscle tissue massage and plyometric training will even improve your game!

Call (08) 9443 4991 today and set an appointment with our expert Sports Physios here in Perth!