Safety Net: How Your Physiotherapist Can Help Treat 3 Common Netball Injuries

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Few team sports are as fast-paced, exhilirating and physically demanding as netball, and with all the sudden sprints, high jumps and rapid changes in direction involved in the average game, it's no wonder that avid netball players can fall victim to a wide variety of injuries. Treating these injuries properly as and when they occur is vital to both your long-term health and your ability to get back on the court as soon as possible.

There are many treatment options available to the stricken netball player, but one of the most effective and widely used is physiotherapy. The following common netball injuries can all benefit from the attentions of a reputable physiotherapist, who will offer treatments and advice that will get you back to the game you love as quickly as possible:

Rotator cuff injury

The sudden, lightning-fast passes and shots that make netball so exciting can also take a heavy toll on your shoulders, and the rotator cuff (a series of muscles which surrounds, supports and strengthens your shoulder joints) is particularly vulnerable. These muscles can become painful, inflamed or even torn during the course of play, and seeing a physiotherapist to treat a rotator cuff injury can significantly speed up healing and prevent permanent damage.

Firstly, your physiotherapist will aim to reduce inflammation of the muscles and tendons to prevent permanent loss of strength and mobility; this is usually achieved with ice pack therapy, but corticosteroids may also be used in more severe cases. Once the cuff has healed enough, they will then guide you through a range of strengthening and flexibility exercises designed to restore strength and range of motion, as well as prevent recurrence of the injury.

Jumper's knee

It's probably no surprise that a sport that involves so much jumping leaves players vulnerable to developing jumper's knee, a condition more properly known as patellar tendonitis. This problem affects the tendon that attaches the kneecap bone to the top of the shinbone, causing it to become inflamed, weakened and painful, and is generally caused by overuse and heavy impacts from hard landings. A tricky condition to treat, a case of jumper's knee should be treated with a battery of different therapy options, with physiotherapy being one of the most important.

Your physiotherapist will examine the stricken knee to determine the scope the injury and root out any postural defects that may be contributing to it, before assigning you a range of treatments designed to repair the damaged tendon and strengthen it against further injury. These treatments generally include strengthening exercises (with a particular focus on eccentric motions), stretching exercises to prevent tightening of the tendon as it heals, and pain management treatments such as oral painkillers, ice packs and corticosteroid treatments.

Ankle sprains

A bad fall, a sudden change of direction or simple overuse can all cause or exacerbate an ankle sprain. If you suffer from what you suspect to be an ankle sprain, your first step should be to have the affected foot examined under X-ray to rule out the possibility of fractures. If your bones are in good shape, physical therapy can help your stricken ankle heal much more quickly.

When treating ankle sprains, your physiotherapist will concentrate of maintaining your range of motion in the ankle while the sprain heals—without treatment, the muscles and tendons of the ankle can become permanently tightened and less flexible. Your physio may also offer you ankle braces or strapping to support your ankle in its weakened state and prevent further injury.

Contact a physiotherapy clinic for additional information.