This article originally appeared on BetterBraces.com.
Basketball is a fast-moving sport that demands endurance from the players and strength and flexibility in the knees—sudden stops, pivots and jumps put pressure and strain on this area of the leg, often leading to injuries.
You can work to prevent knee injuries and pain by taking care of your body. Use these exercises, all of which work to strengthen the ligaments and muscles around your joints, to become a better player with strong, resilient knees.
Sometimes, simple, traditional bodyweight exercises are all you need. That's the case with lateral lunges, which put a slight twist on the traditional movement, placing all the focus on strengthening your quads and your knees.
This movement also improves force absorption in the knees and teaches your body how to control your weight during fast, directional movements.
Directions: Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep your upper body straight. Step out with your right foot and lean down into your right leg so that you're squatting on just one side. Keep the left leg and back straight—don't lean forward. Push off from your right foot to return to start. Repeat on the left side for one rep. Aim for 8 to 10 reps.
Bodyweight Quarter Squat
The benefit of a bodyweight quarter squat is a matter of pure volume. As opposed to a parallel squat, where the body often tires after 8 to 10 reps, quarter squats allow you to do 20 to 30 reps, directing extra attention to your knees and quads.
Directions: Push hips back, keep back straight and "sit down" just slightly so your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Return to start to complete one rep. Aim to complete 20 to 30 quarter squats, in the middle of your workout.
Physioball Leg Curl
This exercise helps strengthen your knees, hamstrings and core—all of which play an important role when pivoting and stabilizing your body during a game. This is a great exercise for the end of your workout because it's slower-paced and performed on the ground.
Directions: Lay on a mat, and place your heels on a physioball so that your legs are straight out in front of you. Keeping your core engaged and hips raised, roll the ball in toward your body, so your knees are bent and the physioball is now below the balls of your feet. Return to start for one rep. Aim for 10 to 12 reps.
It's important for basketball players to focus on strengthening their knees and the muscles and ligaments surrounding them. Not only will it help you stay injury free, but it will make you a stronger player as well. Incorporate these simple exercises into two or three workouts during the week to feel a difference in your knees and your game.
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