March heralds the start of netball season – and also when we notice a sudden influx of clients suffering from netball injuries, at our family podiatry centre.
Netball is the most popular women’s sport in Australia, with around a dozen clubs based in the Redlands and bayside areas – at Alexandra Hills, Capalaba, Lota, Thornlands, Thorneside, Victoria Point and Wellington Point to name just a few.
However, there are still a lot of netball players out there, unaware of just how much a podiatrist can help – particularly if they struggle with frequent injuries.
You might be surprised that there are so many netball injuries when it is a non-contact sport – the high rate of injuries is due to other factors, such as the hard playing surface, the fast pace, and sudden changes in movement and direction.
3 Most Common Injuries in Netball
Sprained Ankle – By far the most common of all netball injuries is the ankle sprain, due to the large amount of jumping, landing and pivoting actions. These actions involve numerous structures of the foot – when you have an ankle sprain, the ligaments, muscles and tendons can all be damaged and compromised.
The best way to go about healing a sprained ankle is the RICE technique – Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate your foot for the first two or three days.
If there is serious purple, blue or black bruising – an x-ray is generally the next step, to allow for correct diagnosis and treatment. But if in doubt, or if you are finding that things just aren’t the same after a netball injury, talk to a podiatrist.
Jumper’s Knee – This involves the ligament which runs just underneath your knee cap, the patella tendon, and is one of the most common injuries in netball due to the high prevalence of jumping and bounding.
Should your knee/s become sore it’s important to listen to your body; pain is your body’s way of letting you know that there is an injury. Again, the recommended treatment is to cut back on the activity and ice the region down. We are the only bayside podiatrist clinic using the foot mobilisation technique to help your foot, leg, knee and thigh to work in harmony, so that you are not only back on your feet, but playing netball again soon.
And, we can also set you up with the correct footwear to prevent further problems.
Achille’s Tendon Injury – Any athlete or professional sports person will tell you that damaging the Achilles tendon is their most dreaded injury. That’s because it is the largest tendon in your body, and helps propel your body forward. It delivers all the energy stored in your calf, transferring it down your leg through the tendon and into the midfoot.
The location of the pain, the swelling, and the stiffness will determine what treatment regime a podiatrist will prescribe. Once upon a time it was thought that all Achilles tendon pain could be treated by stretching the calf, hanging your foot off a step, however that does not suffice anymore. Treatment now is prescribed specifically based on the location of the suspected injury in the tendon.
Preparing for Netball Season
There are a few things you can do to minimise your risk of sustaining any netball injuries this season.
Footwear – The most important part of your netball uniform is your shoes. Make sure your playing shoes:
- provide the correct level of arch support;
- have plenty of cushioning to protect your foot from the impact of hard court surfaces;
- and that the sole suits the playing surface – outdoor and indoor courts require different materials and grip of the outdoor sole. For indoor netball, look for something like the Dunlop Volley with its fishbone pattern; whereas for outdoor courts, look for sports shoes where the spacing between the grip on the sole is slightly wider apart, to give you more traction.
Check the age and integrity of your netball shoes – the traction layer, the midsole cushioning layer, the upper. For more tips, including when to invest in new shoes, check out my previous article on what to look for in sports or running shoes.
Correct fitting is particularly important in a dynamic sport like netball. You don’t want to have too much movement of your foot within the shoe, but at the same time you don’t want a shoe that is too tight as it can cause compression on the nerves.
If you are in need of new sports shoes, we recommend you visit a reputable shoe fitting specialist – or your local podiatrist – somebody with the training and the equipment for a proper fit.
Player Fitness – Netball is an extremely fast paced game, with plenty of repetitive movements such as catching, throwing, and jumping, all of which increases a player’s chances of chronic leg and arm fatigue.
As fatigue increases – if your biomechanics is poor – if your footwear is aged – the consequence is that your body is not as well protected as it could be. This then increases your chances of fatigue; and the moment you start increasing fatigue, your chances of suffering netball injuries are going up exponentially.
So increase your level of fitness with a mixed program involving cardio vascular fitness, muscular strength, flexibility and balance, as these are vital if you want to see out the season without falling victim to netball injuries.
Netball injuries are not 100% preventable, but if these little things can be addressed, it does play a huge part in a player’s longevity and enjoyment of the sport.
Our podiatry clinic offers professional fitting of sports shoes, and treatment for netball injuries involving the feet and lower limbs – call us today on 3207 4736 for personal assistance.