Netball is a popular sport, particularly here in Australia, and like most sports is commonly associated with injuries.
Netball injuries have a variety of mechanisms by which they occur including but not limited to: collision/contact with another player, awkward landing, overuse or being struck by the ball.
Below I have outlined the most common netball injuries and categorised them according to their location.
Netball Ankle Injuries
Lateral Ligament Sprain
These types of injuries can vary significantly in terms of severity but most often are deemed as a low to moderate grade injury. This occurs when your foot rolls inwards and causes there to be pain on the outside of the ankle. Often individuals may be able to continue playing after they have rolled their ankle with the use of rigid tape and adrenaline in their system, but they almost always will result in bruising, swelling and/or pain when standing in the days following the ankle sprain.
This type of injury commonly occurs during pre-season or the initial stages of a season due to the increased loading through the Achilles’ – Calf complex. Typical features of this injury include pain at the top of the heel bone OR in the middle part of the tendon which ‘warms-up’ or reduces with activity, and is aggravated by explosive type movements such as jumping, accelerating etc.
This is one of the most frequently reported netball injuries and occurs when trying to catch, intercept or block a ball in netball. Ligaments function to support and stabilise the small joints of each finger and they can be disrupted when the finger if bent in a certain position. While this may cause immediate pain, it will commonly subside within minutes and not prevent the individual from continuing to play. Sometimes a large sprain of these ligaments may occur, resulting in significant pain, poor function and pronounced swelling.
This nasty netball injury is often caused by a ball hitting the end of a straight/extended finger OR when the ball hits the palm side of your extended finger, pushing your finger backwards into a hyper-extended position. Individuals with a dislocated finger will report sharp pain at the time of onset.
Netball Knee Injuries
An ACL rupture is a common, debilitating injury resulting in a minimum of 9-12 months of rehabilitation prior to being able to return to netball. It is often the result of a person trying to change direction by planting their foot, and then the knee of this foot gives way or collapses on them. It may also occur upon landing after jumping to receive a ball etc, though this is a less common mechanism.
Shin splints (i.e. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
This is a common injury particularly in the adolescent age group which often presents bilaterally (i.e. in both legs). It is where an often intense, throbbing pain is reported in the shin area which gradually increases during activity, eventually becoming unbearable forcing the individual to cease their activity. Given it is an irritation of the underling bone from the muscles which surround it, it often requires a given period of rest and then graded strengthening/stretching exercises to improve the muscle length and strength. Shin splints often aren’t harmful however if left untreated for a significant period of time they may progress to a more significant pathology such as a bone stress injury or fracture.
Similarly, to an Achilles tendinopathy, an individual presenting with patellar tendinopathy will report pain over the front of their knee, either on the middle portion of the patella tendon (mid-portion tendinopathy) or where the tendon joins the patella (insertional tendinopathy). In addition to reports of pain, they will have difficulties with explosive type movements such as jumping, landing and acceleration.
If you think you currently are experiencing one of the above injuries or succumb to a netball injury in the future, anyone of our physiotherapists would be more than happy to help you back on the court.
Franettovich Smith, Mendis, M. D., Parker, A., Grantham, B., Stewart, S., & Hides, J. (2020). Injury surveillance of an Australian community netball club. Physical Therapy in Sport, 44, 41–46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ptsp.2020.04.004
van Rensburg, Bryant, G., Kearney, S., Singh, P., Devos, A., van Rensburg, A. J., Schwellnus, M. P., & Botha, T. (2021). The epidemiology of injury and illness at the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019: an observational study. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.2021.1932632