Basketball is an enthralling sport to watch. But did you know it's also one of the most dangerous games for your knees?
It requires speed, rapid motion, and abrupt halts. As a result, basketball players frequently suffer from sprained ankles, ACLs or MCLs, and back pain, with knee injuries being the most prevalent cause.
However, the numbers shouldn’t worry you. By strengthening your knees, you can easily avoid these problems. So, how can you maintain strong knees to keep playing the game you love?
This article will look at three basic strategies to strengthen your knees for basketball: proper warm-ups and cool-downs, knee strengthening exercises to prevent injuries, and ways to get strong knees for basketball even when suffering from an injury.
Let's get started.
Related: Best Knee Brace for Basketball
Always Warm Up And Cool Down
You can’t underestimate the importance of proper warm-up and cool-down exercises before you begin playing. These activities improve blood circulation and heart rate while minimizing muscle stiffness, which could lead to severe injuries.
A proper warm-up session for any athlete can include anything from basic skipping to stretching exercises such as side lunges and sumo squats.
After your workout, you should cool down with brisk walking, standing stretches, and ankle rotations. You can try out these cool-down routines after your next practice or game.
Workouts To Strengthen Your Knees And Prevent Knee Injuries
When athletes complain of knee pain, it is typically not the knee that is the root of the problem. Instead, the stress in other parts of the body might be causing discomfort.
A lack of ankle mobility is one of the most common causes of knee pain and discomfort. If your ankles are weak and immovable, they can put additional strain on your knees, especially while landing and running.
To avoid injuries, it is important to perform activities that strengthen the ankles and knees.
We have put together a list of exercises to help you strengthen your ankles:
Lunges work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, among other muscles in your lower body.
- Stand tall with your feet close together
- Take a single step forward
- Bend both knees to a 90-degree angle
- Bring your back knee as close to the ground as possible. Your front knee should not extend beyond your toes
- Return your lunging knee to the starting position
- Repeat for a total of up to 10 reps on each leg
If you are a beginner, here's a video that will show you how to execute a good lunge step by step.
Lateral lunges can strengthen your knees while also improving your balance on the field.
- Straighten your back and spread your feet apart
- Step sideways with one foot and squat by bringing down your hips. Make sure to keep the other leg and your back straight
- Raise your body to a standing position
- Bring your foot back to the middle
- Repeat 10 reps for each leg
This workout helps enhance your stability by strengthening your core and leg muscles.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Press your weight evenly on both feet
- Raise one foot while shifting your body weight to the other
- Bring your knees to a parallel position with the ground
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Slowly lower your foot to the ground
- Repeat ten reps on each leg
Glute bridges help with basketball's rapid motions and jumping. They also assist with knee injuries by strengthening your lower body.
What's even better is that you get to work on your glutes without putting any additional strain on your knees.
- Lay down on your back
- Place your hands on your sides with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You can also use a resistance band around your thighs, right above the knees
- Lift your hips while pushing through your heels, squeezing the glutes and core, until you make a straight line from your shoulders to knees
- At the peak, pause for a few seconds while squeezing your glutes
- Slowly lower your hips and repeat
Take a look at these dos and don'ts when performing glute bridges.
Physio-Ball Hamstring Curls
Strong hamstrings can also help relieve strain on your knees. Physio-ball hamstring curls are a great hamstring workout, and we've included a video to show you how to do them.
Jumping And Landing Practice
Incorrect landing, which puts unwanted strain on the knee ligaments, is another major cause of knee injury in basketball players.
For optimal shock absorption, players should land with their upper body straight and bend both their knees and thighs.
In addition, maintaining a strong and flexible lower body can help save your knees from being injured when landing.
Strengthening Knees For Basketball When You Have A Knee Injury
Knee injuries are inconvenient, but they don't have to prevent you from building strong knees. While we encourage you to stay active, you should consult with your doctor about which workouts are appropriate for you to avoid causing more harm.
If you're dealing with knee pain and can't exercise, make sure you're resting, icing, compressing, and elevating your knee. However, if your knee is up to it, try these easy exercises:
Straight Leg Raise
- Lie on your back with your legs on the floor
- Bend the non-injured knee at 90 degrees with the foot flat on the floor
- Contract your quads on the straight leg to stabilize muscles
- Raise the leg about 45 degrees
- Maintain this position for about 5 seconds
- Lower the leg slowly
- Repeat ten times
Lateral Step Up
- Find a step (commercial exercise step, a box, or any platform) that is 6 - 8 inches high
- Place your injured leg on the step
- Lift your leg, and tighten your core for stability
- Lower the leg back to the ground. Ensure you touch the floor with your heel as you come down and rise up
- Repeat about ten times
- Stand by a wall or any stable vertical surface
- Slide down until your knees and hips are at a 90-degree bend
- Hold this position for around 20 seconds
- Come back up
Conclusion: Strengthening Knees for Basketball
Whether you're a novice or a pro basketball player, knee strengthening is essential if you want to keep playing. Fortunately, simple workouts are all you need to build strength.
You know the drill by now: start with warm-ups and end with cool-downs. Don't forget about strength training for injury prevention, flexibility training, and balancing drills.
When you need a resistance band, make sure you utilize one. If you do this regularly, your knees will become stronger in no time!