As the weather cools here in Australia and we pack away the bathers and sunscreen, our attention turns to winter sport activities.
The winter season often seems to roll around quickly, and it can catch you off guard. There are some of us for whom, after a long off-season and festive celebrations, our bodies aren’t quite conditioned and ready to jump into the full swing of our chosen winter sports.
Thankfully there are many things we can do to get ready for the winter sport season.
And in this blog, we shine a spotlight on a super popular sport: Netball.
5 common injuries from playing netball
If you’re a regular netball player, you might be familiar with some of the following conditions and injuries!
But it’s okay, as we are going to show you some easy and simple ways to minimise them all so you can breeze through each netball season.
- Blisters from friction on toes and arches
It’s common to experience blisters from time to time if you play sport - most are harmless and require no medical attention, whilst others can be more serious and may require a visit to your doctor or podiatrist for proper treatment.
- Heel pain
Several factors may be in play when it comes to the heel pain associated with playing netball, however the most common causes would be overuse, muscular imbalances, having flat feet (fallen arches) or plantar fasciitis.
- Calf pain
Calf strains are often caused by something we call ‘rapid eccentric load’ (basically a sudden change of direction/ or landing). They can also occur more commonly in tight or shortened calf muscles.
- Ankle sprains
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in netball players and can range in severity. Minor sprains may only take a week of rest and rehab, whereas more serious sprains can take up to 6-12 weeks to completely heal.
- Knee pain
Because of the sudden stopping, changing direction whilst running/moving quickly or landing awkwardly from a jump, it’s not hard to see why approximately 25% of the major injuries that occur during netball are knee injuries, such an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury.
Our simple 9 top tips to treat netball injuries
While it’s not uncommon to experience aches and pains associated with the demands of weekly sport, it is important that these niggles are managed so they don’t develop into a more serious injury which will see you out for the rest of the season – or worse, permanently.
So, let’s look at how you can minimise injuries in the first place, swiftly treat an injury if it does occur, and help keep you on the court as often and as safely possible with our top 9 tips.
Tip #1: Correct footwear
It’s important to choose the correct footwear for each activity or sport. This means choosing a shoe with appropriate support and grip. We recommend Asics Netburners as a leading brand of netball shoes.
Tip #2: Taping techniques for injuries
Knee and ankle braces are popular with netballers – you can use kinesiology tape for feet, ankles and knees. They can help support proprioception during the game which helps to reduce the occurrence of twisted ankles, sprained knees, or weeks off because of injury. Rigid taping can also be very useful for ankles and knees if more support is required.
Tip #3: Compression for ankles and knees
At first instance compression is very helpful during an acute injury and can be applied to the affected area along with ice to help to reduce bleeding and swelling. Compression can then be continued throughout the recovery process using bandages and tape.
We recommend using a compression sleeve for the ankle or knee which can be worn during training and games to reduce swelling and aid in tissue repair.
Heat treatments can be used after 48hours - since the occurrence of injury, but ice is often recommended as being the better option for treating sports injuries.
Tip #4: Massage of the calf/foot/ankle
Massage and gentle stretching can help to reduce trigger points and lengthen muscles. This can help both before games as well as after a match to ensure the muscles maintain flexibility.
Tip #5: Insoles
Insoles can support the arch of the foot and reduce pressure in the arch and heel area. A good insole will offer optimum cushioning, shock absorption and support for your feet. You can wear insoles inside your netball shoes to give you support during each match.
Tip #6: Blister socks or sleeves
Synxgeli Toe Sleeves are ideal for treating, reducing and preventing corns, blisters and toe deformities on the big and little toes.
Injinji socks can also be worn – these are socks that slip over toes to reduce toe blisters associated with netball.
Tip #7: Dry needling and laser treatments
Dry needling assists by locating specific pain points and then restoring a muscle’s natural ability to lengthen and shorten. It’s perfectly safe and works by inserting a small acupuncture needle into the muscle to decrease pain and improve function.
Laser treatments are highly recommended because it is a safe, comfortable, and highly effective treatment option that can provide pain relief as well as help with tissue repair. The wavelengths used in laser therapy will be tailored to your injury type and severity.
Tip #8: Core strengthening
Stability and balance: For all sports players, strengthening your core helps with stability and balance which will in turn help you to perform better. You can try getting down into a plank position a few times a week or you can use a ‘Swiss’ or wobble board to help improve your core stability. We recommend pilates, yoga and an exercise regime provided by your podiatrist or physiotherapist, to ensure your intrinsic muscles are also getting stronger too!
Tip #9: Warm up well
Of course, we can’t sign off without mentioning a very simple yet important part of injury management in sports – warming up.
You can try some light jogging or stretching as well as any netball-specific exercises such as sprints, shuttle runs and quick changes of direction.
Are you ready for winter sport season?
Boost your season with our range of orthotics & insoles. Get match-ready and enjoy a pain-free netball season with our insoles and toe sleeves all designed to protect and support your body through all activities.