Netball Injuries: Prevention and Treatment

Netball is played by over two million active participants world-wide.  The International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) has 36 affiliated member countries, with the highest participation rates within Commonwealth countries, especially Australia, New Zealand, and England.

AOK's Newcastle Champioship Team
AOK’s Newcastle Champioship Team

Netball is physically demanding – its rules and court surface have evolved a game that requires explosive bursts of speed, sudden changes in direction or braking and the ability to jump.  Footwork rules mean that frequent and explosive bursts of acceleration to receive a pass are usually followed by rapid deceleration.

Biomechanical studies have indicated the abrupt deceleration characteristic of netball landings after catching a ball result in excessively high ground reaction forces when a player’s foot contacts the ground.  Excessive and repeated ground reaction forces can increase risk of lower limb ligament damage and chronic musculoskeletal disorders.  Although players may be able to withstand high ground reaction forces if their musculoskeletal system is properly aligned, players with a skeletal malalignment, unusual footfall pattern or who land incorrectly risk potential injury.  As such, netball has attracted a reputation as a game with a high potential for injury particularly to the lower limbs.

The most frequent netball injury occurs to the ankle, particularly sprains of the lateral ankle ligaments.  That is, a player lands on the outer border of the foot, causing the ankle to “roll” in under the leg and stretching or tearing the lateral ligaments of the joint.  Ankle injuries account for approximately 60% of total netball injuries requiring treatment.

A tip for lower leg rehabilitation is to use Vibram FiveFinger as your footware. As well as the sport applications the Vibram FiveFingers are being used by chiros, physios, and podiatrists to increase foot strength improve mobility and strengthen neural pathways.

The near perfect proprioception together with the grip of the TC1 sole allows patients recovering from accidents caused nerve trauma to become mobile (and thereby recovering) faster.

‘For many years I have been telling my patients that we are hunters and gatherers. We should be walking across rocky outcrops on undulating surfaces in barefoot – or with a piece of leather strapped to our sole. Now, Vibram have made the perfect shoe. Fivefingers. Well Done. (Brent Gordon – Chiropractor/Osteopath)

Five Fingers
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About the author

Bradley Wilson is the Managing Director of the AOK Health Group, established in 1994. The AOK Group is comprised of 3 companies which specialise in the design, manufacture and distribution of health and rehabilitation products, education and services worldwide. Bradley has not just fostered good products but also good business, winning the awards including 2008 Exporter of the Year, 2003 Fastest Growing Hunter Wholesaler and in 2004 Trainer of the Year in Logistics. In 2004, 2006 & 2008 Bradley was elected as a Director of the Hunter Business Chamber by the 1000 member companies of that organisation. He is Senior Vice President, Chair of the Executive, Audit, Business Development and Education Committees. In 2005 fellow board members elected him as a Councillor of NSW Business Chamber (previously Australian Business Ltd) - one of Australia’s largest business lobby groups. Bradley was a Councillor for 3 years. Respected enough to work with other prominent industry professionals throughout the world, he has developed a business model that allows his customers the advantage of the world’s best product and technological information unchallenged by their competitors.

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