Overuse injuries in basketball: A dribble of sprains and pains

by Tumelo Lethule 

Basketball has become one of the most popular sports in the world and has given us the pleasure of gushing over NBA stars such as O’neal, James, Curry and of course, the legendary Jordan. As a non-contact sport, basketball remained one of the safest sports ever played. However, as the sport seems to increase its popularity status; so did the injuries associated with the sport. Injuries most common to basketball are ankle sprains, knee injuries, lower back pains, facial and finger injuries as well as anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

In comparison with contact and other non-contact sports, basketball has been classified as one of the sports with a higher injury risk of injury and injury incidence [2]. Because basketball is a sport that requires speed, strength and power to accomplish movements such as rebounds and jump-shots, one can presume that players are likely to suffer some injuries when performing these highly dynamic movements [2].

Weiss, KJ et. al [1] used the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Questionnaire (OSTRQ) to record the onset of overuse injuries for the ankle, knee and lower back in professional male basketball players. The author assessed the prevalence and severity of overuse injuries and also determined the efficacy of the questionnaire over one season. The authors found that severe knee overuse injuries were reported more than ankle and lower back injuries [1], suggesting injury prevention strategies may need to focus on the knee.

Another study showed the prevalence of injuries in female basketball players (19.5% ankle injuries, 20.6% knee injuries) and in male basketball players (28.4% ankle, 17.5 knee injury) [3] suggesting a higher injury risk in women than men. Zuckerman and his team [4] found that during practice, males had a higher rate of ankle injury compared to females while females have higher rate of overuse knee injuries curing practice. From these findings, one can assume that females are more at risk to knee injuries and male’s ankle injuries.

While the underlying causes of injuries are yet to be fully understood, some research has emerged to understand how these injuries occur. Ankle sprains may occur as an athlete lands on an opponent’s foot. Overuse knee injuries seem to be caused by overloading and previous injury. Interestingly, knee injuries are seen mostly in centre players than any other positions, suggesting that playing positions may be a risk factor [2].

The cause of overuse knee injuries and ankle sprains is still a puzzle that seems to have little pieces, at least for now. With that said, through injury surveillance and the identification of injury risk factors and further understanding how injuries occur, better injury prevention strategies can be formulated and implemented. Until then, sprains and pains remain a concern in basketball.


[1] Weiss, K.J., McGuiren, MR, Besier, T.F., Whatman, CS, 2017. Application of Simple Surveillance Method for Detecting the Prevalence and Impact of Overuse Injuries in Professional Men’s Basketball. The Journal of Strength and Condition Research, 31(10), p2734-2739.

[2] Cumps, E., Verhagen, E., and Meeusen, R. 2007. Prospective epidemiological study of basketball injuries during one competitive season: Ankle sprains and overuse knee injuries. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 6, p204-211.

[3] Andreoli, C.V., Chiaramonti, B.C., Biruel, E., Pochini, Andre de Castro, Ejnisman, B., Cohen, M., 2018. Epidemiology of sports injuries in basketball: integrative systematic review. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med

[4] Zuckerman, SL, Wegner, AM, Roos, KG, et. al. 2018. Injuries sustained in National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s and women’s basketball, 2009/2010-2014/2015. British Journal Sports Medicine, 52: 261-268

One comment

  1. Pingback: Overuse injuries in basketball: A dribble of sprains and pains — Rugby Science | Health Science Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.