Netball Injuries – What to expect this season

Netball Injuries – What to expect this season

Understanding what injuries occur not only within your sport but also your position goes a long way in helping you prevent them. Netball is a popular team sport in Australia with females dominating participation. It involves rapid acceleration and deceleration, jumping, controlled landings and changes of direction (Massey, 2015). Lets take the time to examine what injuries occur, how to prevent them, and how to manage them should they arise.

 Common Injuries

There are three common areas injured when playing netball. They are the ankle, knee and wrist/ hand (Massey, 2015).

Ankle injuries include:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Tendonitis/ tendinopathies (i.e. Achilles)
  • Fractures/ dislocations
  • Periostitis (shin splints)

Knee injuries include:

  • Ligament sprain (e.g. ACL, MCL)
  • Knee cap dislocations
  • Bursitis
  • Meniscus (Fibrocartilage)
  • Tendinopathies (i.e. Patella)

Wrist/ Hand injuries include:

  • Fractures/ dislocations
  • Finger injuries (e.g. mallet finger)
  • Bruising
  • Sprains

Why am I getting injured!?

Well, the weight of publications around this area would suggest that injuries are the result of on-court collisions, awkward landings and slips and falls. Recently, there has been a rise in injuries sustained through collisions. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, netballers are three times more likely to sustain lower limb injuries including ACL ruptures than their AFL, Rugby and Soccer counterparts (Cowie, 2015). A Flinder’s University study into Australian Sports Injury Hospitalisations found that netball injuries accounted for 4% of all sports-related hospitalisations in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014). There were a total of 1262 hospitalisations with 9 in 10 being female. The majority of those females were aged between 25-34years (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014). Interestingly, most of these injuries were soft tissue or fractures.

Well I’ve had enough and I want to stop them from happening!

The biggest thing is correct pre-season training, which ultimately forms a part of your body’s conditioning or tolerance to the types of loads and forces involved in game play.

Here’s a task:   Consider what Components of Fitness are most prevalent for your particular position in the picture. Number these from 1 to 10, with 1 being the most prevalent or important attribute. Now just consider the top 3 and ask yourself how well conditioned you actually are in these areas. If there are question marks, then you may find yourself susceptible to injury this season.

In a nutshell though,

  • Make sure you are performing dynamic stretches and warm-ups before getting on the court. Equally as important is an active cool down.
  • Supplement your on court training with more specific conditioning as discussed above. If your stability is lacking, hit a Clinical Pilates class or two a week. If your flexibility stinks, set aside some time to stretch or sign up for a yoga class. If your strength is poor, have us look at developing an appropriate resistance program for you. It won’t change unless you do something about it, but be targeted, so your not wasting time.
  • If you honestly can’t tell how well you are conditioned or how your body is going to stack up this season, let us help. Pre-season musculoskeletal screenings are netball specific and are designed to detect your specific weaknesses. Your paying good money for your membership (or your parents are) and being injury free makes play enjoyable. Invest in your body this season, book in a screening at Excell Physiotherapy.
  • Overuse injuries come with a warning sign in the way of ‘niggles’ (tightness, catching, soreness). Often these develop in to pain or directly contribute to more acute / severe injuries. Listen to your body, notify your coaches and parents. Seek medical assistance if necessary. The first aid room is for advice also.

What happens if you get Injured?

For minor injuries such as sprains and strains the R.I.C.E method is best initial approach. This involves:

Rest: make sure you keep your weight off the injured limb to avoid any extra strain or injury

Ice: helps to prevent swelling and bruising. It should only be used for 15-20 minutes at a time and once removed should not be reapplied until the skin is back to room temperature again.

Compression: wrapping the injured limb in a bandage or compression wrap helps to support the joint and controls any swelling, but make sure it is not too tight.

Elevate: elevation prevents increased swelling reducing pain.

Even those injuries are potentially considered as minor should be reported and further management advice should be sought. Use the staff around you or the medical personnel provided each weekend to ensure you not only restore normal function but improve on it further to prevent recurrence in the future.

For further information about soft tissue injuries, check out our other blogs. Here’s some links:

Caitlin Bayley, B.Phty, Physiotherapist

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