In basketball, lower body injuries are very common and affect the ability for athletes to play during the season. Studies have shown that up to 66% of basketball injuries occur in the lower body. Also, knee injuries are the second most common injury in all levels of play in basketball. Knee injuries can be nagging and result in increased time off; furthermore, knee injuries can be caused by multiple factors: trauma, overuse, and non-contact.
To maintain knee health and decrease the risk for knee injuries, one must address issues above and below the knee joint. In other words, we have to look at the hips and the ankles. For that reason, we should have good hip control with glute strength, and normal ankle mobility to decrease unnecessary stress on the knee. With that in mind, here are our top 3 exercises that address the 3 joints (ankle, knee, and hip) to bullet proof knees.
Glute Strength is an important factor for knee health since it controls motions at the hip. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are one of the most common injuries in basketball, especially for the female athlete. Studies have shown that up to 64% of ACL injuries are a result of a non-contact incident. A non-contact ACL injury occurs when the bones (the tibia and femur) twist opposite each other, or over extending. Therefore, having glute strength to help control the femur against twisting or over extending is crucial.
One of our top exercises for glute strength is the standing fire hydrant. The standing fire hydrant with a loop forces the stance leg to prevent femoral internal rotation and adduction, which is what we don’t want. Finally, this exercise is performed for static holds to help improve the mind-muscle connection.
Another common basketball injury is patellar tendinopathy, or better known as jumper’s knee. It is usually an overuse injury due to excessive jumping and lack of quadriceps strength. One of our favorite exercises that we use to help decrease the risk for patellar tendinopathy is the Spanish squat. The Spanish squat allows us to load the quadricep muscle while maintaining a vertical shin. As a result, we are able to activate the quadriceps muscle more without compressing the patellofemoral joint.
One of the biggest culprits we see for knee injuries is decreased ankle mobility. Studies have shown that following ankle injuries, the ability to dorsiflex (bend) the ankle is decreased if not treated. Consequently, the decreased dorsiflexion leads to changes in the loading of the Achilles’ tendon and increases the demand of the knee joint to compensate for the lack of motion at the ankle. Ankle range of motion is commonly limited by muscle or joint restrictions. In this video, we will go over how to perform self mobilization to help decrease joint restrictions at the ankle and help improve ankle dorsiflexion range of motion.
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Powers, Christopher. Functional Biomechanics of the lower quarter. 2017
Rudavsky, Aliza et al. Physiotherapy management of patellar tendinopathy. 2014
Terada Masufmi, Pietrosime Brian and Gribble Phillip. Therapeutic Interventions for Increasing ankle dorsiflexion after ankle sprain: A systematic review. 2013