Georgiy Sekretaryuk
August 17, 2020
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Physiotherapy in the News – The NBA Bubble Success Story

The summer season is hitting its peak which means that it’s time for another physiotherapy news update. In this series we typically check in on a few stories from around the world that reiterate the importance of physiotherapy in your life, along with some general interest pieces that we’re happy to share. This time we’re taking a look at one very important story – the NBA “bubble” at Disney World in Orlando and how physiotherapy has been instrumental in its success.

How the NBA Bubble is Going Strong With a Big Assist from Physiotherapy

The whole world has been watching as the NBA sets the example for sports to return amidst the global health crisis. After 3 weeks of league play we’re entering the first round of the playoffs for the adjusted season, and it’s going great! 

There are a number of reasons for the success of the NBA bubble concept in Orlando, with careful planning and preparation being the key. Perhaps the most important element to NBA players’ return to league play – is physiotherapy


Because these world leading athletes had not played a game nor practiced since the hammer came down in the middle of March. Sure, a few of them may have courts on their personal properties, but they were not permitted to play against anyone who was not a part of their household. LeBron James’ 15 year old son “Bronny” may have some game, but that will do little to prepare James for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

For four and a half months NBA ballers’ normal physical regimes came to a screeching halt. But then, with the snap of league commissioner Adam Silver’s fingers they needed to be physically prepared to spring back into action for their very first practice in July. They did just that and came roaring back better than anyone expected. In fact, teams are putting up some of the highest point totals in league history. ESPN reports that the last time there was a slate of five or more NBA games on the same day, with every team scoring at least 110 points, was over 3-decades ago.

There is no denying that physiotherapy has been the key during and leading up to the NBA bubble concept. Prior to their first practice in Disney World, most players worked with their respective teams’ physiotherapists via virtual sessions – not dissimilar to what the general public had been doing during lockdown. Online physiotherapy helped prepare players from becoming more susceptible to common injuries on the court, including those to the ankle/foot, hip/thigh/leg, knee, and forearm/wrist/hand. A focus on soft tissue work and small stabilizer muscles, which are often neglected when working out “at home”, was instrumental. Players may have grown a few cobwebs on their free-throw shots, but physio staff ensured that their muscles, ligaments, tendons were ready for action. And once the players arrived at the NBA bubble in Orlando, they found that their teams’ physiotherapists were ready and waiting for in-person care.

“We’ve been here in the bubble for three weeks now and we’ve played three practice scrimmages. We’ve also got some of the best physiotherapists and training staff in the world, so we feel like we will be prepared.” (Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz via Associated Press, July 29 2020)

Some experts predicted a rash of player injuries upon return to competitive play, but that simply hasn’t happened. Injury reports from the bubble are negligibly to no different to that of the regular season, and again – players are putting up huge numbers. And yes, even the referees are getting in on the action with their own therapists, and physiotherapy equipment: 

“In the bubble, McCutchen (NBA’s Vice President and Head of Referee Development and Training) has encouraged referees to develop a routine. Physio balls, elastic bands and jump ropes were brought to the officials room for the initial quarantine.” (Sports Illustrated)

The world is slowly but surely getting its sports back. If the other leagues follow the NBA’s example of preparation complete with physiotherapy we’ll have a full slate to enjoy for the months to come until the inevitable return to normal. #GoRaptors


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