As fun as it is, basketball is an inherently risky and physical sport to play. So, it’s only natural to wonder – is basketball bad for your knees?
It can be if you don’t prepare your body for it. Apart from being out of shape, other factors can make basketball bad for your knees too. We’ll discuss them below, along with what to do about them.
These are the topics covered, click on any of them to go to its section:
3 risk factors that could make basketball hard on your knees
Sometimes, a fun basketball game could cause a knee injury if you have any of these risk factors:
1) Playing too much too soon
Each of us has a certain activity limit that our bodies can tolerate. You can feel you pushed past that point when you feel muscle soreness after a game.
Pushing your limits to a healthy degree promotes muscle growth and builds stamina, but you must allow your body to recover before pushing them again. Not doing this increases your risk of having knee injuries.
So, give yourself time to rest and recover, more so if you’re a beginner.
2) Neglecting to warm up
I’ll be honest – I’m guilty of skipping this pregame routine, too.
But disregarding warmups is like ignoring to warm your car’s engine on a blistering cold day. It can decrease your performance and potentially set you up for an injury.
Also, keep in mind that some knee injuries can take weeks or months to recover from. Warming up a few minutes before each game is a small price to pay compared to that.
3) Playing with poorly healed knee injuries
Research shows that athletes with a previous injury, have a high risk of getting hurt again. (1)
Add that to the game’s quick pace, sudden stops, and physicality. No wonder basketball can be bad for your knees if you haven’t healed enough to perform well.
That’s why it’s best to get that old knee injury checked. Get medical treatment and get it cleared by a physio before playing basketball.
How can you make basketball easier on your knees?
There are several things you can do to make basketball easier on the knees, including:
Take care of your body
Also, it’d be good to lose weight if you’re overweight. Research shows that, for every pound you lose, you can reduce the stress on your knee by up to 4 lbs. (2)
A healthy diet is also equally important. The easiest way to keep this in check is by increasing your veggie intake and reducing your sugar consumption. (3)
Work on your game outside the court
An hour of practice is much better than a minute of rehab. So, apart from playing, you also have to work on your form outside the court.
This type of training optimizes your movements, so when you’re in the middle of the game, your body responds the way you want it to. For this, do at least 1-2 workouts per week where you work specifically on:
- Other motions you feel you haven’t mastered yet.
Wear some form of knee brace
These are joint supports you can put on during sports and other types of physical activity. They can help reduce the incidence of knee injuries. (4)
The most comfortable ones are knee sleeves, as they give the most mobility while playing. You can also use them after the game as a recovery tool.
Check them out: Best knee sleeves and braces for basketball players.
Common basketball knee injuries you should watch out for
Basketball-related knee injuries typically occur either from overuse or sudden physical trauma. Some could take a few weeks to recover, while others require months of physical therapy.
The most common ones include:
- ACL injuries.
- Jumper’s knee.
- Osgood-Schlatter’s disease.
- Meniscus tears.
How do I protect my knees when playing basketball?
To protect your knees when playing basketball, strengthen your knee muscles. You can also wear a knee sleeve during the game.
Is basketball hard on joints?
Basketball can be hard on your joints if you don’t prepare your body for it.
How common is knee injury in basketball?
Knee injuries in basketball are the second most common ones, following ankle injuries. (5)
Conclusion: Is Basketball Bad For Your Knees?
Basketball isn’t inherently bad for your knees. But it can be if you don’t prepare yourself for it, if you don’t warm up properly, and if you don’t attend to previous injuries.
Avoid getting injured by taking care of your body, practicing challenging movements outside the court, and wearing a knee brace if you need extra help.
- Murphy, D F et al. “Risk factors for lower extremity injury: a review of the literature.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 37,1 (2003): 13-29. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.37.1.13
- Messier, Stephen P et al. “Weight loss reduces knee-joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis.” Arthritis and rheumatism vol. 52,7 (2005): 2026-32. DOI: 10.1002/art.21139
- Varkevisser, R D M et al. “Determinants of weight loss maintenance: a systematic review.” Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity vol. 20,2 (2019): 171-211. DOI: 10.1111/obr.12772
- Sitler, M et al. “The efficacy of a prophylactic knee brace to reduce knee injuries in football. A prospective, randomized study at West Point.” The American journal of sports medicine vol. 18,3 (1990): 310-5. DOI: 10.1177/036354659001800315
- Andreoli, Carlos Vicente et al. “Epidemiology of sports injuries in basketball: integrative systematic review.” BMJ open sport & exercise medicine vol. 4,1 e000468. 27 Dec. 2018, DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000468