Avoiding Common Netball Injuries This Season

Avoiding Common Netball Injuries This Season

Netball is a much-loved sport enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of Australians each year. In fact, it’s the top team sport for women and girls according to Australian Sports Commission, who found in a survey conducted a few years ago that just under 900,000 women and girls participated in Netball annually. While this is fantastic for promoting regular exercise and staying fit and healthy, like any sport, it does mean there is a significant risk of injury for those involved. So we thought we’d share with you five of the common netball injuries we see and treat in our clinic, so you know what to be careful of and to reduce the risk of injury!

1. Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee)

Patellar tendinopathy affects your patella tendon at the front of your knee and is often caused by repetitive and strenuous jumping and landing. The tendon works to connect the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh and the patella itself (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). It can become damaged, painful and inflamed from the jumping and rapid changes in direction that comprises a lot of netball. It can also be aggravated by playing on hard surfaces, and can quickly make moving the knee painful.

2. Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are no stranger to netball players – we remember getting quite a few ourselves! With the quick side-to-side movements, it’s not surprising. Players tend to roll onto the outside of their ankles and damage the ligaments that work to support and stabilise the ankle. While ankle sprains can vary significantly in the degree of damage, they can make walking and putting weight on the ankle very difficult. What’s worse, perhaps, is the mindset around ankle sprains. With their common occurrence, ankle sprains are often shrugged off with the thought that “it’ll heal soon on its own”. In reality, ankle sprains need to be treated with great care and attention as when they don’t heal properly and/or multiple ankle sprains are incurred, a long-standing ankle instability can develop.

3. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries

Just like the ligaments around the ankle work to support and stabilise it, your cruciate ligaments (anterior and posterior) work to stabilise your knee from within the joint. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament in particular tend to occur in Netball because of the regular pivots, the rapid starts and the sudden stops. These actions that twist the knee can damage the ACL and leave you feeling unstable at your knee and experiencing pain, tenderness and inflammation.

4. Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Because of the high-impact nature of Netball, a lot of stress can be put through the shins and the muscles and tissues that surround and attach to the tibia (shin bone). As well as the muscles that are constantly being engaged, the tibia itself can experience a bending stress from the fast-paced movements. This strain and general overuse of the lower legs can lead to pain and inflammation along the front of the shins, which may develop during or after the game. It’s important to treat not only the symptoms but the cause of the pain, which often looks at correcting the biomechanics of the feet and techniques during the game.

5. Achilles Tendinopathy

The achilles tendon connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the back of the heel. Damage to the achilles tendon occurs from the strain from the quick running starts and jumps in netball. This causes the tendon to become inflamed, tender, and can make playing a game quite painful! If you have tight calf muscles, you’ll be more vulnerable to straining the achilles tendon so make sure to stretch every day and warm-up every time you play. Because the achilles tendon isn’t as vascularised as other tendons, it can take longer to heal and so good care needs to be taken when you suspect you’ve injured your achilles tendon. If you don’t look after it, it also tends to worsen so make sure you get it seen too quickly!

While all of these injuries have the potential to put a big dent in your netball season, there is a lot you can do to reduce the risk of developing them. These include:

Having a good stretching routine
Warming up and warming down well every time you play
Training effectively
Working on your technique, including gait training
Wearing supportive footwear
Maintaining good muscle strength

What’s equally as important is to treat any injury early, as soon as any signs or symptoms start to show. Continuing to play will worsen the injury and prolong your recovery, so get it seen to quickly!

Our expert team of podiatrists Toowoomba here at The Podiatrists love working with Netballers of every age and skill level to help them enjoy their best season and stay injury-free! Our advanced technology in our clinics helps us to analyse movement like never before and we LOVE the impact it’s having on our players performance and confidence! Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for years and need an old injury seen to, we’ve got you covered. You can book online or give us a call on 07 4638 3022

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