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Injury Explainer: How soon should we expect Aron Baynes back in the lineup?

Suns center Aron Baynes has been out more than a week with a hip flexor strain

NBA: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Are you wondering why Aron Baynes is still listed as day-to-day with his hip flexor injury even though we are nine days into the daily updates with no end in sight?

General Manager James Jones went on the radio on Wednesday for his weekly interview, and had little to say about Baynes.

“Aron’s responded well but he’s not there yet,” Jones said. “He’s getting close but we don’t want to push it. We’re not forcing it.”

I reached out to Dr. Rajpal Brar (DPT, Mindfulness & Performance Scientist, 3CB Performance) to give us an explainer on this hip condition.

Dr. Brar is NOT Baynes’ physical or in any way associated with the Suns or with Baynes. He is simply offering his expertise on the matter in general to give us a better insight into the injury.

In the words of Dr. Brar...

Phoenix Suns center and integral piece of the team’s early success Aron Baynes is set to miss his fifth straight game with an injury to his right hip. An injury that’s been labeled by different sources as either a “right hip flexor strain” or “right hip contusion”.

In the following piece, I’ll connect the dots between those two descriptions and when to expect Baynes back on the floor.

What’s going on with Baynes’ hip?

Baynes was injured during the Suns game against the Boston Celtics on November 18th after being kneed in the right hip area by Celtics wing Jaylen Brown. Baynes was in clear pain and writhed on the ground for multiple minutes before he was escorted to the locker room.

The anterior (front) part of the hip is rife with muscular anatomy:

*Credit – Complete Anatomy by 3D4Medical

So taking a direct knee to that region can cause trauma to the hip flexor muscles, which lines up with the dual descriptions we’ve seen regarding the injury. Typically, a strain in the pure medical sense implies an underlying tear in the muscle but that doesn’t line up with the way Baynes was injured (direct contact). Accordingly, it sounds like the term is being used as a general term to describe pain when flexing the hip.

When will Aron be back?

Aron has been traveling with the team and participating in on-court activities which are both positive signs. The difficulty of putting a return timeline on this injury is that, like I mentioned before, it doesn’t sound like an actual strain.

With true hip flexor strains, a mild grade 1 strain can last up to three weeks but from my understanding, this sounds like a day to day situation where the rehab team is assessing Baynes daily for pain response during and after team activities and taking him through certain drills that stress the hip flexors.

The frustrating aspect of a hip flexor injury is that this muscle group is involved in basic basketball movements like running, starting/stopping, trunk flexion, and overall hip stability. That’s why the return to play timeline can be more convoluted and take longer which would explain the “indefinite” timeline the Suns have put out there.

The rehab team will continue to be patient and take Aron through their protocols on a daily basis to assess how he’s feeling and take it from there. A key indicator of his return will be when he begins to participate in practice and more live 2v2, 3v3 and eventually 5v5 drills.

Big thanks to Dr. Brar for his insights!

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