Managing Common Basketball Injuries – Dr. Meg Withers

Meg profile picBasketball is a dynamic game of speed and agility. It is the second most popular sport in Australia and it’s demand and physicality on the body can often result in injury.

The highest rate of basketball related injuries occur between the ages 15-24 years old. Common causes of injuries are falls, player contact, awkward landings, abrupt changes in direction. The most frequently injured body region is the ankle and knee, accounting for 37% of basketball injuries in Australia.



The most common ankle injury is a lateral ankle sprain, also known as ‘rolling the ankle’. Lateral ankle sprains occur frequently in athletic populations and the re-injury rate can be as high as 80%.  They can be caused by overuse or high demand, underlying restrictions in the body and lower limb or often by standing on another player’s foot. If the injury isn’t addressed properly, this often leads to chronic ankle instability, decreased ankle movement and ankle pain.

There are many structures than can be injured surrounding the ankle joint including bone, ligaments, muscles, nerves, arteries and connective tissue. A thorough assessment as well as clinical testing will determine the most appropriate management.

General management:

  • Ice the ankle to help decrease swelling
  • Keep the ankle compressed – There are many different types of compression bands available
  • If able to, keep the ankle as mobile as possible. Your Osteopath will be able to grade your ankle sprain based on its severity and determine how much time you need to rest.
  • Depending on symptoms, you may need imaging done to rule out a fracture
  • The most recent research suggests that keeping a sprained ankle as mobile as possible initially is more effective than keeping it immobile or in a restricted brace.
  • Use Lectric Soda/Crystals to help draw out the swelling – These can be bought from the supermarket. Place them in an old sock or pillow case and place this over the swollen area over night. Make sure you cover your leg in a towel to absorb the fluid that is drained out of the ankle
  • Arnica cream – This is great to help bring out bruising in the ankle
  • Osteopathy will aid in returning function to the ankle joint, restore mobility and provide balance exercises to prevent further injury


  • Dynamic, basketball specific warm-up prior to training and a game. Foam rolling following training and game.
  • Recovery plays a huge component in injury prevention, especially with younger populations playing high level and frequency of sport each week
  • Address any predisposing factors such as poor foot mechanics, any other knee or lower limb injuries or spinal restrictions – Your Osteopath will be able to help identify these
  • Rehabilitation is imperative to improve balance and strength in the lower limb
  • Good runners are really important; this will depend heavily on your foot type.

ANKLE MOBILITY EXERCISES – This will help to improve movement in the ankle joint and improve drainage from the area

  • Write the alphabet with your foot, start with small letters, then get bigger.
  • Use a towel and try to pull your toes towards you. This should be very gentle and shouldn’t cause any pinching in the front of the ankle.
  • There are many other mobility and balance exercises that are really important, based on your specific injury.


Dr Meg Withers is an Osteopath at Wantirna Osteopathy who has a keen interest in treating athletes. She is passionate about an individual’s health and well being in general, particularly nutrition. Meg has a love for basketball, playing at a semi professional level for many years. Her love for the sport has given her vast insight into the biomechanics and rehabilitation required to return to such an agile and physical game. 

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