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March Madness: Injury Prevention for the Weekend Warrior

Posted 3/16/2015 by UHBlog

The 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is in full swing and with that arises the opportunity to provide helpful injury prevention tips so that “weekend warriors” can enjoy their games to the fullest. For those who, due to work, school or other commitments, usually limit their sports or physical activities to the weekend, playing a game like basketball can result in injury if the proper steps aren’t taken to prepare.

According to James Voos, MD, Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at University Hospitals, Head Team Physician for the Cleveland Browns and Associate Professor of Orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the essentials for helping players stay healthy are simple: hydrate, warm up/stretch and wear appropriate footwear.

“In addition to spring officially starting in March, the NCAA Tournament (also referred to as March Madness) typically gets people excited to get active again after a long, cold winter,” says Dr. Voos. “We like to encourage people to undergo an evaluation with a physical therapist or other health professional from the UH Division of Sports Medicine to help prevent injuries.”

Along with that one-time evaluation, Dr. Voos says that hydration is key to help prevent muscle cramping. He recommends that players up their intake of water or sports drinks two hours before they are scheduled to begin their game and continue to hydrate throughout the game.

Additionally, Dr. Voos stresses that players should take the time to properly warm up and stretch before their games. “I see a lot of Achilles tendon injuries. Often, weekend warriors are sprinting to get their games from work or school and they don’t have time to stretch their muscles.” He continued, “As we get older, we become less resilient. What may have worked for you when you were younger may unfortunately result in injuries now.” Try this before your next game: Locate a set of steps and then place the balls of your feet on the edge with the rest of your feet hanging over. While hanging onto a handrail or wall for balance, let your heels down. This will stretch your calf muscles and warm up your Achilles tendons.

Lastly, Dr. Voos suggests that weekend warriors ensure that they have the correct footwear for their sport which is also appropriate for the type of surface that they’ll be playing on. “Some players may not be aware that some basketball shoes are made solely for indoor courts, while others are made for outdoor use,” he says. “Check with a knowledgeable salesperson at a sporting goods store or do some research online before investing in an athletic shoe.”

Even after heeding this advice, jammed or sprained fingers, “jumper’s knee” or other injuries can occur. In that case, Dr. Voos recommends icing the affected area and keeping it elevated. If you experience swelling and/or stiffness that doesn’t improve within a day, seek medical attention.

You can request an appointment with Dr. Voos or any other UH Sports Medicine provider online or by calling 1-866-UH4-CARE.

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