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Common Problems: Netball Injuries


This month at Fine Form Physio we take a look at Netball Injuries.


In 2006, over 593,900 Australians over the aged of 15 played netball 1. Data shows that the lower limb (knee and ankle) is the main body region injured accounting for 62% of all netball injuries 2. Due to the fast-pace and cutting nature of the sport, the likelihood of knee and ankle injuries is much higher. Common netball injuries of the knee and ankle include:

ACL tear
Ankle sprain

ACL tear

What it is

The ACL is a ligament that prevents excessive movement of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (thigh bone). Most ACL injuries occur from a non-contact mechanism, commonly landing from a jump or a cutting manoeuvre.

Signs and symptoms

  • Signs

  • Hearing a 'pop'

  • Loss of full knee movement

  • Result from landing after jumping or change of direction

  • Symptoms:

  • Knee pain

  • Swelling

  • Knee instability

Treatment

MRI is needed to confirm an ACL tear and surgical review is necessary in most cases. Surgery involves using a graft ACL to replace the original – this is usually grafted from the hamstring tendon. Physiotherapy management of an ACL injury occurs in 6 steps:

  1. Prehabilitation: preparation of surgery. The goals of this stage is to achieve full knee movement, increase knee strength and stability

  2. Recovery from surgery: this involves reduce swelling with ice, compression, and elevation, wean off crutches and achieve full knee movement

  3. Strengthening: strengthening all legs muscles including the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calf. Typical exercises include squats, bridges, lunges etc.

  4. Running, agility, and landings: re-introducing straight-line running, z-runs, sprinting, change of direction, jumping and landing

  5. Return to sport: this involves training the athlete to return to sport i.e. sport specific-drills for the position the athlete plays. For example, a mid-court will require more endurance whereas a goal-keeper requires a lot of jumping, landing and quick change of direction

  6. Injury prevention: exercises to add into a warm-up to prevent re-injury


Prevention

Most sports have a knee-specific injury prevention program available for all levels and ages to use to prevent ANY knee injury - not just ACL alone. Netball Australia have developed and released the "the KNEE program".

The KNEE program allows you to select the level of netball performed i.e. junior, recreational or elite and outlines netball specific exercises designed to prevent injury. At a recreational level, the program composes of four components:

  1. Warm-up/footwork

  2. Strength

  3. Balance/landing

  4. Agility

This program should be routinely performed and incorporated into training sessions.

Ankle Sprain

What it is

Ligaments are rope-like structures designed to connect bone to bone and restrict excessive movement between two bones. At the ankle joint, there are multiple ligaments that work together to provide stability. The most common ankle sprain is called an inversion injury, where the foot rolls in and the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are overstretched or torn. Ankle sprains may be classified by either:

  • Grade I

  • Grade II

  • Grade III

Signs and symptoms

  • Signs:

  • Feeling unstable at the ankle/loss of balance

  • Landing on the outside of your foot

  • Stepping on another player's foot

  • Symptoms:

  • Swelling

  • Bruising

  • Pain over the ankle


Treatment

Depending on the cause of injury and the amount of swelling and bruising, x-ray and ultrasound of the ankle may be indicated - a Physiotherapist will be able to determine if this is necessary. Treatment and healing timeframes of an ankle injury depend on the grade of injury. The main aims of treatment are:

  1. Acute management - Ice, compression, and elevation

  2. Restore full movement

  3. Restore strength

  4. Running, agility, and landings

  5. Return to sport

  6. Injury prevention

Prevention

Studies show once you have had one ankle sprain, it significantly increases your risk of re-injury. Therefore, prevention of re-injury is of utmost importance. Injury prevention exercises should focus on strengthening the calf muscles and performing balance and landing exercises.

The use of additional support for the ankle has been rigorously debated over the years. High quality studies recommend the use of lace-up braces or rigid tape over compression socks or kinesiotape (elastic). However, the use of external support such as an ankle brace should not be the only preventative measure for ankle injury. A combination of bracing and exercise should be prioritised to prevent re-injury 3.

If you are currently recovering from either of these common netball injuries or would like an individualised program to prevent injury for the upcoming indoor netball season or pre-season preparation for 2022, book in to see one of our highly skilled Physiotherapists at Fine Form Physiotherapy.


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COME SEE US AT FINE FORM PHYSIOTHERAPY WE ARE OPEN AND READY TO HELP YOU. If you are in need of treatment, please do give us a call at FINE FORM PHYSIO 02 8068 6776.

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