SUNDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- While basketball is a great way to have fun and get exercise, occasional players need to take steps to reduce their risk of injury, says Dr. Pietro Tonino, sports medicine program director at the Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill.
"Couch potatoes, youngsters and weekend warriors can wind up in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to basketball," Tonino said in a prepared statement.
In 2006, more than 1.4 million basketball-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospitals and emergency rooms, doctor's offices, clinics and ambulatory surgery centers, at a cost of nearly $24 billion, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A common kind of knee injury in basketball is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a rope-like tissue in the center of the knee that connects the front of the shinbone with the back of the thighbone and helps a person bend at the knee, squat and jump.
"The ACL can be torn or sprained when the athlete twists, jumps, lands, pivots or suddenly stops," Tonino said.
An ACL injury can be surgically repaired, but recovery and rehabilitation can take months. There are non-surgical treatments for mild ACL injuries.
"To reduce the risk of an ACL injury, slightly bend the knees and hips when landing. Position the buttocks as if you were about to sit down in a chair, rather than standing upright. Land on your forefoot, not your heel," Tonino said.
He noted that females are 2 to 8 times more likely than males to suffer an ACL injury.
"In contrast to males, females tend to land from a jump with their knees locked, which puts added pressure on the knees. The result can be a sprain or even a tear of the ACL," Tonino said.
In order to reduce the risk of ACL injuries, female athletes should strengthen their hamstrings (the muscles in the back of the thigh), he said.
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine has more about ACL injuries.
SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, 2007