Although Professor Casals clarifies that the result of the study is currently only a snapshot of the hypothesis since it relates to one specific team, “it appears that other teams and other leagues such as the NBA are experiencing the same problem.” This could change the view of some sports medicine staff working with basketball players. It also raises new questions, for example, the competition itself: the possibility that a less busy schedule of games could reduce the occurrence and severity of injuries. In the opinion of Dr Rodas, “a higher game density and intensity imply less recovery and therefore a greater risk of players suffering muscle injuries”, something that Professor Casals agrees with: “Basketball has changed a lot in terms of physical contact, speed and demand”. This explanation is also consistent with lower league basketball, where ankle injuries predominate as expected. According to Dr Rodas, “the individual technique of young players still needs time to develop and they do not have a physiotherapist binding their ankles every day”. In fact, as amateur competitions become more and more similar to the professional game in terms of demand, the occurrence of muscle injuries “could also have an influence on the focus of our players’ training”, as referred to on the occurrence of injuries in young players.
So we seem to be on the verge of a new concept in medical constraints of professional basketball and this could influence new prevention strategies. Perhaps the first of these strategies should be to rethink the organisation of competitions, possibly by reducing the number of games, which according to Dr Rodas “could be the first preventive strategy, along with promoting more physiotherapy for recovery and reviewing whether warm-ups require specific and more focused muscle exercises”.
A new explanatory model on injuries could require adopting new measures; concerns regarding injuries increases in leagues such as the NBA, where some of the star players may not play in key games and it is suggested that these stars should be supervised by their own doctors. A professional sport not only evolves thanks to the contributions of great players or the application of new tactics on the court. It occurs thanks to the collaboration between players, staff and sports science and sports medicine researchers contributing to new knowledge that helps to continue questioning and understanding real problems in medicine. We hope that during the coming years we can continue to see this close communication between professional staff and science, so that the results of studies such as this one, not only remain in scientific listings but also lead to a visible step forward in the evolution of basketball.
The Barça Innovation Hub team