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 practice 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 program 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.
Patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee”
This is inflammation of the patellar tendon that attaches the muscles at the front of the leg to the shinbone. It helps to straighten the knee. Constant jumping and landing as in netball leads to patellar tendon pain and tenderness in the knee which continues at rest and during play. Squatting and kneeling may be difficult. Treatment consists of the RICE protocol and physiotherapy.
Shin splints is a repetitive stress injury that manifests itself with pain and tenderness on the inside of the shin bone. Initially, shin pain may be felt during play but later continues throughout the day. Shin splints can sideline an athlete for a long time. Rest and rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles that pull the foot toward the shin are 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 to the back of the heel which increases with exercise and decreases when the exercise stops. There is also difficulty walking or rising up 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 tendonitis is to rest and ice the injured foot. Rehabilitation may be necessary to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles.
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.