Your Health Matters

Common Netball Injuries

With the AFL season already off to a roaring start, this time of year also translates to the start of the Netball season! Fremantle Netball Association and several other centres across Perth, WA and Australia will soon be swarming with activity every Saturday over the coming months. Listed below are some of the common injuries to occur on the court, and the various methods of treatment and management for them.

Ankle Sprains

Causes: Rapid acceleration, sudden pivoting or change in direction, vigorous sprinting and jumping make ankle sprains a common netball injury. Common signs indicating a ligament sprain include pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty weight-bearing.

Treatment: In the event of an acute injury, PRICER (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation and referral) is effective in the first 48-72 hours. Following this period, exercises incorporating strengthening and stretching (particularly the calf muscles) will not only reduce ankle pain and stiffness, but also promote flexibility and movement.

Achilles Tendonitis

Causes: This is a painful condition experienced by netballers who place a lot of traction force on the tendon on the back of their ankle. It is evident from pain on the back of the heel (which increases with exercise and decreases when activity has ceased) and difficulty walking or rising up on the toes. Continuing to put pressure on the tendon may cause it to snap, sometimes with an audible popping sound.

Treatment: In the event of acute Achilles injury, the PRICER method is effective, and later continued rehabilitation to strengthen and stretch the calf muscles will lead to reduced risk of re-injury. Your physiotherapist may also find frictions, electrotherapeutic modalities and dry needling to be effective in reducing pain and discomfort.

Patellar Tendonitis or “Jumper’s Knee”

Causes: The patellar tendon attaches the Quadriceps (muscles at the front of your thigh, which straighten the knee) to the shinbone, and when this tendon is inflamed, this condition can result. Constant jumping and landing, as well as muscular imbalances in the lower limb can lead to patellar tendon pain and tenderness in the knee which can arise during play and continue throughout rest.

Treatment: In the acute phase (the first 48-72 hours) the PRICER protocol should be followed, and following this, physiotherapy treatment will focus on strengthening with squats, lunges and electrotherapeutic modalities to facilitate muscle activation, as well as taping strategies.

Shin Splints

Causes: This condition is a repetitive stress injury that presents with pain and tenderness on the inside of the shin bone (the Tibia). Initially, shin pain may be felt during play (particularly during or after running) but continues after the game.

Treatment: Rest from activity and rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the muscles that pull the foot toward the shin are necessary before return to sport.

Back Ligament Sprains

Causes: Lumbar ligament sprains occur when the ligaments (the tough bands of tissue that that limit the amount of movement at available at each spinal level) are torn. Stretching ligaments too far or too fast – such as when jumping or gliding through the air to make an intercept, or to catch a high pass – will tear them with subsequent bleeding into the surrounding tissues, causing swelling and pain.

Treatment: Physiotherapy treatment is designed to hasten your muscle and ligament healing rate. Several tools such as electrotherapeutic modalities, soft or deep tissue massage, postural correction and advice, mobilisation and manipulation, stretching and strengthening exercises and heat packs are all advantageous options for optimal recovery.

Good luck to all the budding sports men and women out there, and may your hard work this year result in Championship success! I hope every one remains injury-free and enjoys their active pursuits throughout the 2012 Winter sporting season!

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