Netball injuries can be sudden onset acute injuries, for example, finger sprains and hand injuries. Or they may develop over time through overuse, especially to shoulders and knees. Netball has similar demands to basketball, involving fast changes of direction along with catching and overhead throwing.
Netball injuries of the wrist & hand
A sprained finger occurs when the finger is bent causing damage to the ligaments which connect bones together. It is a common injury in ball games such as netball, American football, basketball, cricket, handball, etc. Symptoms include pain in the finger at the time of injury with swelling likely to develop over the joint and restricted movement in the finger. Later on, pain is likely to be more specific when bending the finger.
Read more on treatment for finger sprains.
A thumb sprain occurs when the thumb is bent out of its normal range of movement, usually backward. Damage occurs to the ligaments supporting the joint at the bottom of the thumb. Symptoms include pain when the thumb is bent backward, also a pain in the web of the thumb when it is moved. There may be swelling over the metacarpophalangeal joint at the base of the thumb and the patient may have laxity and instability in the joint.
Read more on thumb sprain.
Hand & finger fractures
Any of the bones in the hand or fingers can break. Carpal fractures in the wrist usually occur from falling onto your hand. Likewise, Metacarpal fractures of the hand or broken fingers and fractured thumbs may also result from direct trauma or impact from a ball.
Read more on Hand & finger fractures.
Netball injuries of the shoulder
Rotator cuff strain
A rotator cuff strain is a tear to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder and is common in throwing and racket sports. They are so-called because their job is to rotate the arm at the shoulder and provide a supportive cuff around the joint. Treatment consists of reducing pain and inflammation followed by a full rehabilitation program consisting of mobility, strengthening, and sports-specific exercises.
Read more on the rotator cuff strain.
Rotator cuff tendonitis
Rotator cuff tendinopathy is a degenerative condition affecting one or more of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder. Pain is often present when resting and is made worse by lifting your arm above the shoulder. Your shoulder will probably feel tender and there may be a creaking feeling when the shoulder moves.
Read more on Rotator cuff tendinopathy.
Lower leg & ankle Netball injuries
A sprained ankle is one of the most common sports injuries and is also the most frequently re-injured. In the majority of cases, the ankle rolls inwards (inversion) under the weight of the rest of the body, resulting in damage to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
Read more about ankle sprains.
Achilles tendonitis (also known as Achilles tendinopathy or Achilles tendinosis) is an overuse injury causing pain, inflammation, and or degeneration of the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. If this type of injury is not caught early this can be difficult to cure but with the right treatment and particularly eccentric strengthening exercises, a full recovery can usually be achieved.
Read more on Achilles tendonitis.
Pain at the front of the lower leg is commonly referred to as shin splints. Usually, symptoms occur at the front inside of the shin bone but can arise from a number of causes. We explain the symptoms, treatment, and rehabilitation of medial tibial stress syndrome to cure and prevent it from recurring.
Read more on shin splints.
Netball injuries affecting the knee
Jumpers knee/Patellar tendonitis
Jumper’s knee or patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury that results in pain at the front of the knee, localised at a point towards the bottom of the kneecap. Repetitive strain from too much running or jumping causes inflammation or degeneration of the patella tendon. Patellar tendonitis can be a tricky condition to treat and requires a substantial period of rest and a thorough treatment and rehabilitation program.
Read more on Patellar tendonitis
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) also known as runner’s knee, chondromalacia patella is a generic term used to describe kneecap pain at the front of the knee. Symptoms include an aching pain in the knee joint, particularly at the front of the knee around and under the patella. Treatment includes rest, applying ice or cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation along with a full rehabilitation program of specific exercises along with knee taping. Read more on patella pain treatment.
A Hamstring strain commonly known as a pulled hamstring is a sudden sharp pain at the back of the thigh. Treatment for this injury involves immediate first aid of rest, ice, and compression followed by a full rehabilitation and exercise program. Pulled hamstrings are either caused whilst sprinting, or from a fast stretching movement or high kick.
Read more on hamstring strains.
Should I seek professional treatment for my Netball injury?
If you have any of the following symptoms you should seek further medical assistance about your Netball injury:
- Severe pain, especially on walking
- Severe swelling (oedema)
- Altered sensation in the foot – such as a feeling of “pins and needles” (paresthesia) or a “loss of feeling” (anaesthesia).
- Unable to complete normal daily activities after the initial 72 hours.
Further medical assistance can be sought through either your local GP or a private clinician such as a podiatrist, physiotherapist, sports therapist, osteopath, or chiropractor. If you have followed the P.R.I.C.E. principles (see below) and are still unable to walk after 72 hours or still have severe pain that is not subsiding after the first 72 hours you should visit your local A&E department for further assessment.
Secondly, if you have applied for P.R.I.C.E. principles and still have a weakness that lasts a long time (more than 2 weeks) or have ongoing discomfort in your foot or heel, you are highly recommended to seek advice from a specialist expert – such as a podiatrist or physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor – who can provide you with advice and an appropriate and effective recovery and rehabilitation program.
Read more on PRICE principles
Preventing Netball injuries
Injury prevention strategies are very similar in most sports, although variations relating to protective equipment and conditioning will be present. the following is a simple guide to help you to avoid injury:
- A warm-up is a vital part of injury prevention in every sport. It also helps to prepare you mentally and physically. Warm-ups should get the heart rate up to increase the flow of blood around the body, in preparation for more strenuous activity.
- It should also warm and stretch the muscles to ensure they are working to their optimum and do not sustain an injury due to being cold and inflexible.
- A Netball warm-up should consist of a minimum of 5 minutes of cardio, pulse-raising exercise such as jogging, cycling, skipping etc. This should be followed by dynamic stretches. These have more recently replaced the use of static stretches.
- They include drills such as running with high knees, heels to bum and Cariocas. This should be performed for a minimum of 5 minutes, up to a maximum of 20 minutes, with movements gradually becoming larger and faster. This is preferable to static stretching as it keeps the body warmer and heart rate higher, and more resembles the type of movements which are required in most sports.
- Generally, most netball players do not wear any form of protection, such as padding or head guards. The most important piece of equipment for a netball player to avoid injury is footwear. Your shoes must offer the right support for your feet and for the surface of the court they are playing on. (i.e. inside – sometimes slippery, or outside – usually concrete)
Rest & recovery
- Resting is an important part of any athletes training program! Physiological changes in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscular systems in our bodies, occur when we are at rest.
- Overtraining often results in injuries due to fatigue causing poor technique and overuse type injuries. If you feel at all unwell, tired or in pain, you should rest until better.
- In order to play in the higher levels of any sport, training is vitally important. Training not only the cardiovascular and muscular systems but also techniques and tactics are required to make sure the body is strong, coordinated and flexible as well as the mind is prepared and focused to name but a few.
Nutrition and hydration for preventing Netball injuries
Proper nutrition is important. A bad diet will prevent you from recovering from training sessions making you more prone to injury. A balanced diet is what you should aim for:
- Carbohydrate is important for refueling muscles
- Protein rebuilds muscles
- If you become dehydrated then less blood will flow through muscles. The muscles will be more prone to injury
- Vitamins and minerals are required for a number of reasons related to recovery
Look after your feet
- Much of what is discussed above should be part of your sporting routine. A biomechanical analysis can help identify possible injury risks. Orthotic devices can help. Also, an assessment from a sports therapist or specialist can identify weak areas and possible injury risks. A course of exercises specific to your needs can give you the best chance of avoiding injury.