March Madness is probably one of the largest, most exhilarating, and fun events in all of sports! Each year at this time, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, is played, and has been annually since 1939. The inaugural NCAA men’s basketball tournament had just eight teams, increased now to 68 teams. This single-elimination tournament of 68 teams compete in seven rounds for the national championship, resulting in The Final Four.
Before the tournament even begins, there is a long roster of talented players that are out for the season or out indefinitely. Many of these athletes had the potential of going pro, and the tournament was an opportunity for exposure to professional scouts and career making games. Some injuries are recoverable, allowing the athlete to work back up to full potential. Some injuries take a career from GO to NO.
The overall rate of injury in a 16-year time span from the 1988–1989 season through 2003–2004 was 9.9 per 1000 athlete-exposures for games. Athlete-exposures for practices was 4.3 per 1000 during the same time frame.
Roughly 60% of all injuries were to the lower extremity, with ankle ligament sprains being the most common injury and knee internal instabilities being the most common injury. 59% of game-related injuries occurred during the second half of the game, which identifies fatigue as a predisposing factor. A trend of observed increase in physical contact in men’s basketball over the past 2 decades has led to increasing incidence of injuries to the head and face was noted over the 16-year span of the study. You know the issue is real when you have an NCAA Injury Surveillance Program.
Not a college athlete in your home? According to a study of high school basketball players by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA):
- Twenty-two percent of all male basketball players sustained at least one time-loss injury each year.
- Approximately 42% of the injuries were to the ankle/foot, far outnumbering other injured body categories such as hip/thigh (11%) and knee (9%).
- Sprains were the most common type of injury (43%).
- General trauma was the second most common type of injury (22%).
- Sixty percent of the injuries occurred during practice.
- Fifty-nine percent of game-related injuries occurred during the second half of the game.
Injury Prevention Tips
- Wear athletic shoes that fit securely, are non-skid and have high tops for ankle support.
- Warm up and stretch before each session. This will increase deep muscle temperatures giving increased flexibility
- Use proper technique and follow the rules (they were not made to be broken).
- Use a mouth guard, ankle braces, safety glasses, elbow, and knee pads to prevent injuries when falling and coming into contact with other players.
- Do not wear jewelry or other accessories.
- Play on a clean, dry, safe surface.
- If you are injured, take the time to rest it out before you return to sports.
If an injury occurs, remember the R.I.C.E. method
- Rest the injured area.
- Ice the injured area for 20 minutes every 2 hours.
- Apply a Compression wrap to reduce swelling.
- Elevate the injured area to a level above the heart.
Our prediction is March Madness will inspire young and old alike to play basketball with gusto. Enjoy the game, take precautions to avoid injuries. If you get injured and you do not improve within a few days, seek medical advice or treatment.
Dr. Marshall Allegra spends time speaking with each patient at his office in Hazlet to understand their unique condition. With over 25 years of experience as an Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Allegra is an expert at diagnosing pain and prescribing the most appropriate non-surgical interventions before surgery is recommended.