It came as a surprise when Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin withdrew from Team USA with less than a month before the FIBA World Cup kickoff. However, his reason for withdrawing – a stress fracture in his back -- isn’t out of the ordinary for an athlete like Griffin.
“A stress fracture is typically involved with normal physical activity as opposed to one particular traumatic event,” said physical therapist Dr. Christopher Thurston, Jr. “A stress fracture results from overuse or fatigue in which the affected area has endured repetitive irritation and micro fractures at a particular area in the bone.”
As a professional basketball player who is known for his high-intensity game and gravity-defying slam dunks, Griffin has no doubt endured a copious amount of stress and pressure on fatigued areas of his spine from one day to the next. Dr. Thurston surmised that he most likely experienced a dull ache in his back that gradually became worse over time, and in fact the player reportedly left a game at the end of the first quarter this March due to back spasms – a sure sign that something wasn’t quite right.
Griffin might be out of the FIBA World Cup, but he’ll be back in time to join his Clippers teammates for their season opener if he takes the necessary precautions. “At this point in the healing process, he has to be careful to avoid activities that may continue to stress his spine,” Dr. Thurston said. “This time period is typically two weeks at a minimum.”
Before returning to the game and playing at his usual intensity, Griffin will need to focus on strengthening his back muscles and practicing proper body motions on and off the court. These safety measures will help him keep his back strong and healthy. So don’t worry, Clippers fans! Griffin will be back in no time, and better than ever.