This is an excerpt from Massage for Sport Performance by Michael McGillicuddy.
James Naismith, a teacher at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, is credited with inventing the game of basketball in 1891. From its early beginning, it has grown into the college “March Madness” championship and the NBA championship. Basketball players must possess speed, strength, and endurance. An explosive first step allows basketball players to drive past or through a defensive player to score. Players must be able to go from standing still to running full speed quickly. They must have the strength to jump high enough to dunk a basketball, and they need sufficient endurance to do it the entire game and over a long season. When they jump to shoot or dunk a basketball, they must land on their feet in a controlled motion. This full-speed running, jumping, and landing is all done on a hard wooden floor, which makes the action punishing to the body.
Jumper’s knee is an overuse condition that causes the patellar ligament of the knee to become irritated and inflamed. The patellar ligament connects the kneecap to the shinbone. The big, powerful quadriceps muscles of the leg anterior attach to the top of the patella. The patellar ligament connects the bottom of the patella to the shin. When the quadriceps muscles contract, the thigh straightens the leg in jumping to propel the athlete off the ground. The quadriceps muscles also help stabilize the knee when the athlete lands after jumping. Pressure placed on the ligament is usually painful, and jumping or kneeling can aggravate the condition.
The athlete starts in face-up position with a bolster under the knees. The trainer applies massage lubricant to the thigh using compressive effleurage from the knee to the hip 10 times. Petrissage strokes are then applied to the inside, top, and outside of the thigh three times. Next, compression strokes are applied to the outside, top, and inside of the thigh three times. The trainer then applies stripping strokes along the outside, top, and inside of the thigh three times, stopping at any tender points and holding for two to four seconds. Next, Prossage Heat is applied to the anterior knee. The trainer uses friction on the top, sides, and bottom of the patella for 30 seconds three times with a 1-minute rest between applications. The cross-fiber friction should be adjusted to the athlete’s comfort level. The final massage technique is the application of compressive effleurage from the knee to the hip 10 times.
To finish the treatment, stretches should be applied to the quadriceps muscles. The athlete turns to the side-lying position on the massage table and flexes the bottom knee to the waist. She holds the ankle of the top leg, brings the knee of the top leg to the chest, extends the top knee until it is in a straight line with the rest of the body, holds the stretch for two seconds, and then brings the top knee back to the chest. The athlete should perform the stretch eight times. If residual soreness is still present in the knee, an ice pack can be applied for 20 minutes. After the ice pack application, topical analgesic can be applied to the knee. The analgesic can be applied three times a day every other day until the condition improves.
Jumping is hard not only on the knee but also on the ankle. Basketball players can land awkwardly after jumping. Ankle sprains occur when the foot turns or twists, which often happens when a player jumps and lands on another player’s foot. If the foot lands awkwardly with enough force, ligaments that hold the ankle together can stretch beyond their normal range of motion. The amount of pain that an athlete experiences from a sprained ankle usually depends on the amount of damage that occurred. Walking often becomes difficult because of the amount of pain and swelling. Obtaining a proper medical diagnosis is important.
The athlete lies facedown on the massage table with a bolster under the ankles. The trainer lifts the athlete’s lower leg to 90 degrees and applies massage lubricant to the foot and ankle. The athlete then points the foot toward the ceiling. The trainer places both hands around the foot and ankle. As the athlete moves the foot toward the table, the trainer pulls down with both hands around the ankle. This technique helps reduce swelling in the ankle after the acute stage of injury has subsided (48 to 72 hours after the injury). The technique is performed 10 times. With the leg back on the table, Prossage Heat is applied to the outside of the ankle. Gentle cross-fiber friction is applied around the bottom of the outside ankle bone (lateral malleolus). The ligament in the anterior lateral aspect of the ankle, called the anterior talofibular ligament, is the ligament most often sprained in the ankle. Gentle cross-fiber friction can be applied three times for 30 seconds with a 1-minute rest between applications. The pressure should be adjusted to the athlete’s comfort level.
To finish the treatment, stretches should be applied to the ankle. The athlete lies face up on the table, gently points the foot down toward the table, and then pulls the foot up toward the head. The trainer may assist with these stretches by providing a gentle stretch at the end of each motion. The ankle is gently stretched for two seconds in each position and this is performed eight times. If residual soreness is still present in the ankle, it should be soaked in cold water for 20 minutes. After the ankle is dried off, topical analgesic can be applied to the knee. Application can be made three times a day every other day until the condition improves.
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