Has Netball returned and brought all those aches and pains from last season with it?
For a non-contact sport, Netball can be a very physical game and often results in pain and injuries. The number one body part subjected to netball injuries are the ankles, with knees coming a close second.
While some netball injuries and collisions are inevitable, there is a lot of pain that netballers put up with that they don’t have to. If you feel like your ankle or knee is being held together by a roll of tape every game, then it may be time to see one of our physiotherapists. We can complete a thorough physical assessment to provide an accurate diagnosis and form an action plan to not only reduce your acute pain but prevent further injury and pain from occurring. It is best to get on top of any niggle or injury early and start the appropriate rehab.
Common Netball Conditions
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a term used for pain felt typically at the front and/or middle of the knee. It is usually a result of a combination of factors which include:
- Overusing and overloading the patellofemoral joint,
- Joint and postural abnormalities
- Muscle imbalance (weak on one side/tight on the other).
Jumper’s Knee/Patellar Tendonitis
Inflammation of the tendon can be caused by an increase in your activity and progressive overload from running, jumping, and changing directions during a netball game. Muscle imbalances and poor hip stability when running and jumping can all contribute to the problem. If left untreated, further damage and tearing of the tendon can occur.
- Pain over the patellar tendon (beneath your kneecap).
- Pain and stiffness of the knee during or after running or jumping activities. Sometimes the tendon may warm up while running, but the pain will occur afterward.
- Pain when bending the knee.
- Swelling and redness.
The meniscus is the ‘C’ shaped disc made of tough cartilage that cushions the knee joint and stops the bones from rubbing against each other. It is important for distributing loads and absorbing shocks at the knee joint. Pain can be severe and sharp, particularly when trying to straighten, bend, or twist the knee. Complaints of swelling, clicking, popping, or locking of the knee may be experienced following a meniscus injury.
Ligament sprains and tears
There is an alphabet soup of ligaments in the knee (ACL – anterior cruciate ligament, PCL – posterior cruciate ligament, MCL – medial collateral ligament & LCL – lateral collateral ligament). Lack of muscle strength, power, coordination, and activation patterns all increase the load on the knee joint and can lead to injury of these ligaments. They can also be injured by contact with the knee.
- ACL: 30% of ACL injuries are direct contact, the rest are non-contact and result from the wrong movement eg a cut and plant movement, or landing from a jumping position with an extended knee. Women are three times more likely to injure the ACL than men.
- PCL: Often due to a blow to the knee while it’s bent. eg falling on a bent knee.
- MCL: The MCL is most commonly sprained from a direct blow to the outside of the knee or an excessive outward twist when the foot is planted on the ground.
- LCL: A direct force trauma to the inside of the knee.
Ankle Sprains and instability
Ankle sprains account for 40% of netball injuries. Minor sprains may only take a week of rest and rehab, whereas more serious sprains can take much longer.
Signs and symptoms: Pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty weight-bearing.
Once you have sustained an ankle sprain, your chance of another ankle sprain is almost 5 times greater. While they aren’t completely preventable, there are exercises you can do to improve your strength and balance.
Shoulder muscles can become painful due to overuse through repetitive throwing and shooting. Weakness in the rotator cuff can lead to instability and impingement of the structures at the front of the shoulder including the bursa and bicep tendon, causing them to become inflamed.
Achilles Tendon Injuries
This is the tendon that runs down the back of your leg into your heel.
- Achilles Tendinopathy: pain, swelling, and stiffness in the morning and after sport in the achilles tendon.
- Achilles Rupture: Often feels like you have sustained a sharp hit to the back of the leg. Apart from tendinopathy, other factors which can lead to rupture are increased age, weight, and reduced strength.
Back pain and sprains
Lots of twisting and quick changes in direction, as well as poor posture and muscle imbalances such as weak buttock muscles, can lead to extra strain and pain on the muscles and joints of the lower back.
Muscle tears and strains
Again quick changes in direction and jumping/landing actions can lead to muscle injuries that will resolve more quickly with swift diagnosis, treatment, and rehab.
Netball Injury Treatment
Once the correct diagnosis has been made, physiotherapy will provide:
- Advice for early management eg RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Referral for scans if fractures or serious ligament damage are suspected.
- Early mobilisation and stretching to maintain range of motion
- Gradual guided return to exercise with reduced intensity
- Soft tissue release and dry needling to help address any muscle imbalances and tight musculature affecting normal range of movement.
- Strengthening and balance exercises to address any muscle imbalances, deficits in strength, and improve postural stability.
Get on top of you Netball injuries with effective Physiotherapy treatment today. Kayla Malone has over 15 years experience playing netball and hockey – to book an appointment please click here or call (08) 6389 2947.