Netball injuries are all to frequent. With the season starting, it is time to see if all that pre-season training paid off! But with netball often comes injuries, some are more common than others and today we’re going to brush over some of the most common
Injuries occur in netball due to the high repetitive stop start and explosive movements, then the added contact or slippery surface can increase the likelihood for more serious injuries. Most commonly we see sprains and strains, followed by tendon problems and more seriously dislocations and fractures. The fact that netball is on a hard surface causes different injuries to those played on grass or other soft surface.
Most of these injuries occur in the lower body, however damage to the shoulders and fingers are certainly not rare.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, if you’ve hung around a netball court for a few hours there’ll be someone limping towards the bench. These are most commonly from landing awkwardly and changing direction, having other players feet around yours certainly doesn’t help.
A low grade sprain will see a netballer miss 2-4 weeks and a high grade sprain can cause you to watch the season unfold from the coaches box. In more rare instances you can have a high ankle sprain or syndesmosis damage, these often require surgery and a long road to recovery. An ankle sprain can sometimes lead to fracture, it’s always important to get your ankle looked at by a professional to assess the damage
Keeping the knee category broad because there’s so many ways that they can be damaged that individual injuries might not make the cut, but knee injuries account for 25% of netball injuries. Serious knee injuries can be caused by simply changing direction or having awkward falls.
- ACL – unfortunately relatively common and with long recovery times and a rehab program that needs to be ground through. Other ligament injuries include the medial and collateral ligaments and less commonly the PCL. Depending on the severity players often choose to strap and push through the pain, however 4-8 weeks is a much-preferred recovery time.
- Tendon – a common injury is the irritation of the patella tendon that can alter the way we move and run and can be really frustrating for weeks on end. This often gets better with movement and you often don’t feel it mid game…… but pay for it tomorrow.
Lower limb soft tissue strains
Another broad category so that we can include all the muscle strains, common ones in netball are calf and hamstring, but also quad from repeated sprints and jumps. Depending on the grading we’re looking at a recovery time of anywhere between 3-12 weeks. This is why it’s always important to get the severity assessed so that an appropriate rehab program can be implemented.
- Achilles – One of the more serious soft tissue injuries that happen on a netball court – this can range from a niggling tendinopathy that will take multiple months to heal, or a full-blown rupture that will require surgery, booting and a lot of rehab to get you playing again.
- Shin Splints – An overuse injury that often rears its head in the pre season when we overload our bodies with running sprinting and jumping after eating too much over Christmas time, however can then drag right out into finals time. This will require activity moderation and we have had fantastic results treating this with our shockwave machine.
There are many types of fractures that occur with netball so we’ll outline a few of the more common ones today. These are normally caused by awkward landings or overuse.
- Ankles – As mentioned above a bad ankle sprain can actually be a fracture, whether it’s a clean break at the lower end of the leg, or a nasty chondral fracture in the talus bone. Both will require long term rest and rehab.
- Wrist – When we fall, we have an innate reaction to put our hands out in order to protect our face and organs. Unfortunately, this opens ourselves up to fracturing our scaphoid or radius on the impact of the hard courts.
- Stress – This is an unfortunately common injury that can take a while to obtain an accurate diagnosis. They commonly occur in the feet, shins (from shin splints), wrist and toes.
A dislocated finger can happen to anyone at anytime, it can be caused from a short lapse in concentration and the ball clipping the top of the finger, or it can get caught in an opponent’s dress or bib. This will be acutely painful and not pleasant for the squeamish to look at. Some players will ‘pop’ their fingers in and out weekly due to the chronic ligament damage, just strap some tape on and off you go. Others will require splinting and rehab to get back to playing sport or working pain free.