Each year, while NBA players defy gravity and college basketball players fight to survive in March Madness, recreational athletes take to the courts in pick-up games and organized leagues. Like the pros and college players, these athletes are subject to injuries—probably to an even greater extent. Elite players dedicate much of their lives to basketball-specific training, but these players tend to think about basketball only sporadically or at certain times of the year.

Aerobic sports like running and bicycling won't help you get used to all of the physical demands of basketball. Basketball include short, intermittent bursts of activity, quick stops and starts, and physical contact. So if you are planning to play hoops, be aware that making the transition to a different type of sport means training to avoid different kinds of injuries.

The quick bursts of speed and direction changes inherent to basketball can make for sore muscles after a game. Athletes are most likely to experience muscle strains early in the season when their conditioning level is not where it needs to be. Even late in the season, however, you could strain a muscle when you are fatigued at the end of a game.

Recreational basketball players can avoid some of the early season muscle trauma by working on strength and conditioning prior to the season.

If you experience a painful muscle strain, ice it right away and keep icing it on and off for a few days or until any swelling has stabilized. You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen , which are helpful for relieving the pain of many minor injuries.