Netball is a game that calls for fast movements, lots of jumping and throwing and quick changes in direction. As a result, injuries of the foot and knee are very common. Being physically fit is not enough. Athletes should practise good jumping and landing techniques as well as warming up thoroughly and cooling down after each game. Consulting with a physiotherapist can help you prevent a lot of netball injuries.
Some common netball injuries are:
Jumping, running and sudden changes in direction make ankle sprains a common netball injury. Pain, swelling and some bruising may be evident, as well as difficulty bearing weight on the sprained ankle. The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) works well. This should be followed by an early rehabilitation programme of stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce ankle pain and stiffness and promote flexibility and movement. Exercises that stretch the ankle and the calf are especially recommended as calf muscles tend to become tight to protect the sprained ankle. Wearing a protective ankle brace or having the ankle strapped by your physiotherapist can be very helpful and it is also very important to perform specific proprioceptive (balance) exercises to prevent the ankle from being re-injured.
Patellar tendinopathy or “Jumper’s Knee”
This is inflammation of the patellar tendon that attaches the muscles at the front of the leg (the quadriceps) to the shinbone. It helps to straighten the knee. Constant jumping and landing as in netball can lead to patellar tendon pain and tenderness in the knee which continues at rest and during play and is aggravated by trying to straighten the knee. Squatting and kneeling may also be difficult. Treatment consists of the RICE protocol and physiotherapy treatment.
Shin injuries can be caused by repetitive stress on the shins that manifest with pain and tenderness particularly on the inside of the shin bone. Initially, shin pain may be felt during play but later continues throughout the day. Shin pain can be chronic and can thus sideline an athlete for a long time. Rest is vital and strapping the feet may help symptoms. A thorough assessment of foot posture and netball techniques is crucial to determine the cause of shin pain and determine the type of physiotherapy rehabilitation necessary before you can return to netball.
This is a common, painful condition experienced by netballers who place a lot of traction force on the tendon. It is characterised by pain at the back of the heel which increases with exercise and decreases when the exercise stops. There is also difficulty walking or rising on the toes. If one continues to put pressure on the tendon it may snap, sometimes with a loud popping sound. Therefore the best treatment for Achilles tendinopathy is to apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) the injured foot. Physiotherapy rehabilitation will then be necessary to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles and prevent re-injury.
These are just some of the more common injuries suffered by netball players. Improving overall fitness, leg strength and endurance before competition can help the athlete avoid some of the injuries listed above. However, if you have become injured, we can help you recover from your injury and return to netball sooner.