Friday, June 29, 2012

Fortnightly Fitness Fridays - Why do I find 15 minutes of basketball harder than 30 minutes of running?

We have established that I am not very good at ball sports.

The thing is, though, I love someone who would play them several times a week if he could. Mr Bite isn't one for gyms, or even organised ball games, but if you take him to a park with a football or basketball (or to a tennis court with tennis balls and racquets), he is happy.

As a result, sometimes I play ball sports despite not being good at them. Generally, this ends up being more enjoyable than I expect it to be, in large part due to Mr Bite having fun despite my lack of skill, which allows me to have fun despite my lack of skill. Also, we don't necessarily play by the rules. In the case of basketball, we don't even play a game in any formal sense of the word.


Nonetheless, I am often left in pain afterwards.

It is quite rare for me to experience sore muscles. Tight muscles, yes, but sore muscles, no. The exceptions are after basketball and tennis.

Last Sunday, we played basketball for perhaps 20 minutes. Please note - 20 minutes. It was fun, we followed it with a low-key walk, and it made for an enjoyable afternoon.

That night, I had sore muscles down the left side of my neck into my left shoulder. As I get tight back and  shoulder muscles quite frequently, and neck-related headaches semi-regularly, this in itself wasn't too unusual.

On Monday, though, my left wrist and forearm were sore to the extent that it hurt to type (!), my upper arms were sore, and lifting my arms above my head was impressively painful. That was unusual.

This prompted me to try and determine just what basketball was doing to leave me in such a state. For someone who does planned exercise most days, it is a little dispiriting to think that 20 minutes of casual ball shooting could leave me feeling so sore.

(Mr Bite, of course, was entirely fine.)

After reading a few articles, it would seem that there are four main upper body contributors to basketball shooting:
  • Triceps (back of the upper arm; they work to push weight away from you, and are strengthened with exercises such as push ups)
  • Biceps (front of the upper arm; they work to pull weight towards you, and are strengthened by exercises such as bicep curls with hand weights)
  • Deltoids (shoulder muscles; they work to elevate the arms and guide their movement when lifted at the front of the body, and are strengthened by exercises such as lateral arm raises with weights)
  • Wrist and forearm muscles

The rest of the body is also involved, with leg muscles used for moving around the court and for pushing off when shooting the ball, and the core (abdominal / back) muscles used to stabilise movement. For me, though, I think it's safe to say that the problem lies in my arms, not my legs or core.



Skeletal muscles homo sapiens


On reading about the muscles involved in basketball shooting, it suddenly made perfect sense that my arms would be sore after 20 minutes of it. I am hopeless at push ups, can't do chin ups to save my life, and tend to avoid weights-based exercises that call on the triceps and deltoids because I find them so hard.

On reflection, that may not be the most sensible strategy for dealing with poor upper body strength.

The new plan? Push ups, barbell raises, lateral arm raises, and any machines I can find in the gym that say they target triceps, deltoids or the forearms. At least twice a week. Even if I have to start on the lowest weight possible and a tiny number of repetitions (and let's face it, I will).

I am keen to shoot for injury-free basketball within 3 months!

Do you have any muscle groups that aren't quite up to certain activities? 
Or do you have any more general basketball hints to share with me? I could use any advice going, believe me.

22 comments:

  1. I am so hopeless at just about anything requiring hand-eye coordination. I have given up on trying, and I don't like to think about what muscle groups would be sore if I tried to play basketball!

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    1. That makes me feel so much better!

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  2. I suckkkk at basketball! Like seriously. I can play tennis though. I think basketball stresses me out because I don't like getting rushed by random people who are trying to steal the ball from me haha

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    1. I don't even want to think about how I'd cope in a real basketball game situation, with people trying to steal the ball. I have enough trouble without that happening, believe me!

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  3. It's funny how your body can do something (ie walking) for hours and hours without discomfort or pain the next day.... but then 10 minutes on a rowing machine (low intensity) and I am DYING!

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    1. I know! I'm always amazed when it happens. It's a bit of a bringing-back-down-to-earth kind of moment; I'm not actually fit at all, just used to one particular activity!

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  4. I used to love to play bball and now I am not so great at it! I think that over the years I have lost a lot of coordination. Running just comes more natural to me now.

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    1. I am impressed you had the coordination to start with :-)

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  5. hahaha....i'm the EXACT same way!!! well, for sports tho my problem is that i'm so uncoordinated and stink at anything but the running in a line. but i kno for upperbody stuff it's these little hummingbird arms that aren't doing me any favors either. sad fact: i actually have improved my arm strength thanks to my weight routine. :) that said, go get ur lift on girl and then beat Mr. Bite's butt in bball!! :)

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    1. Good on you for improving your arm strength! I am very much the same, my arms are naturally not muscular at all. I will be trying to follow your lead.

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  6. My muscles are always sore and tight. Like...constantly, without fail! I am horrible at all ball sports...running is more my kind of thing. But any reason to get in shape is a good one!

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    1. I think whatever I do, ball sports will never look more appealing to me than running either. I'm sorry to hear you're always sore and tight, though, that doesn't sound good at all! Massages??

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  7. Oh, I am like you. I would much rather prefer to run around the block than play with a ball. What is it with balls? Some people are just so obsessed with them. I was always much more into sports that didn't require a ball like cross country running or swimming xx

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    1. Me too Charlie, me too. I do not understand why balls are viewed as so important to so many sports!

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  8. I always find it strange that some activities seems natural and other seem totally alien - ball sports is not one for me - I hate balls being thrown to me - but I find your approach to basketball and pain interesting - I think I would have just whinged and avoided it :-) good luck with getting those arm muscles in shape - does swimming help them? (that is one of my favourite activities)

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    1. Your comment made me smile because I have traditionally gone with the whinging and avoiding it route :-) It is much more appealing, even now! Your mention of swimming also interests me because I rarely do that these days either - possibly it would help, and would definitely be more appealing than weight lifting.

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  9. I am not much of a basketball player, I prefer a good run or gym class :P
    Good luck on working those arms!

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    1. Thanks Kelly - I am with you on the running and gym classes most of the time! We'll see how I go :P

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  10. i spend most of time in the gym. i love to play netball instead of basketball.

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    1. I'm pretty hopeless at netball too :P

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  11. When I was at Uni, I played a random game of basketball. I was so sore that I couldn't walk for about three days, so I feel your pain. :)

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