If you haven’t been following the exciting work we’ve been doing with Netball teams here in HK, then jump onto our social media and check it out! It’s been a pleasure to work so closely and travel with these teams to look after their bodies and any injuries that occur as they compete.
While managing new injuries is an integral part of what we do as physiotherapists here at Thrive Health Hong Kong, we love using our skills and experience to help Netball players prevent injuries before they even start to cause pain and discomfort. So today, we thought we'd share five strategies you can use to help yourself, and your team, prevent Netball injuries this season.
1. Correct warm-upWe don’t know about you, but for many teams, warming up has been such a routine that many players forget why it’s important to get it right. Warming up correctly can help improve blood flow to your muscles, decrease muscle tension, improve your joint range of motion, improve the rate at which your muscles can contract and relax (and hence your speed) and works your nerves to get you mentally in the game. All of this means improved performance and decreased injury risk during your game. Warm-up for at least 15 minutes and combine aerobic exercise with dynamic stretching. Practice those quick changes in direction, jumping and landing. We recommend including:
Resistance Band Squats
- Step into the resistance band and bring it up to just above your knees Stand with your feet hip width apart
- Squat to 90 degrees
- Repeat 10 times
Resistance Band Ankle Jumping Jacks
- Place the resistance band around your ankle Stand in a quarter squat position with your feet hip width apart
- Jump outwards, stretching the band, then jump back in
- Repeat 10 times
Single Leg Bounds
- Balance on your right leg
- Jump upwards and forwards aiming to jump as far as you can
- Land on the same foot you jumped from
- Aim to land with your whole foot on the ground, not landing on the ball of your foot!
- Keep your knee inlign with your foot, stopping it from caving inwards
- Repeat 10 times on each leg
- Place two cones about 4 feet to the left and right of you whilst you are stood in the middle
- Start doing some fast feet on the spot with your partner standing in-front of you who will call either left or right
- Once they have called which direction, side step to the correct cone, once you reach the cone, using your outside foot, push off and side step back to the middle
- Repeat this 10 times then swap with your partner
2. Stay mindful of your post-match recoveryWhen we talk about your post-match recovery, we don’t just mean your cool-down activities but also your hydration and nutrition, too. Your cool down - note that it’s called a cool down - not a rapid stop to your activity! Keep moving for approximately 15 minutes after you’ve finished your games. Your heart rate and body temperature will decrease, and your muscles will start to relax. Your body will also be clearing waste products like lactate acid that may have accumulated during exercise, which can otherwise leave you feeling sore and stiff the next day. Incorporate light aerobic activity like jogging. Complete your static stretches and gentle dynamic stretches. Focus on your technique - and not getting them over with as soon as possible. Your hydration - you lose more fluids than you realise during exercise - and dehydration can affect your mental and physical performance, increasing your heart rate and body temperature. Start replacing your fluids and drinking water as soon as possible during your cool down - and always keep a water bottle handy throughout the game too where possible. Your nutrition - after all the demand that you’ve just put on your muscles, your nutrition is key to helping you stay healthy, strong and injury-free. Choose nutritious, healthy foods to help repair your muscles and replace your depleted energy supplies.
3. Your clothing and footwear mattersThe clothing and footwear you wear during training and games can go a long way to optimise your performance on the court - or hinder it. With the quick changes in direction during Netball and regular jumping and landing, ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained in Netball, alongside knee pain. The right shoes can give you stability, support and control, reducing your likelihood of rolling out and twisting your ankle. Unsupportive, flimsy footwear will let your ankle roll more easily and not help protect you against these injuries. Make sure that your shoes have a strong heel counter, are firm around your ankle, and have a good strapping mechanism like laces. Your clothing has the same effect. While we may not be able to control our team uniforms, we can ensure they’re not too tight and restricting - and that the clothes we train in allow us to move freely and naturally too. Wearing socks that draw sweat and moisture away from our feet can help prevent things like blisters, too.
4. Improve your coordination and techniques (skills training)The key to success in many things is knowing your strengths, weaknesses and being prepared - and Netball is no exception. To move effectively through a game of Netball, you need to be able to: Jump and land well, and timely
- Pivot quickly
- Run and accelerate quickly
- Change directions quickly
- Handle the ball well
- Pass well
- Safe landings (one foot, two foot)
- Your core strength and flexibility
- Footwork drills
- Attacking drills
- Defending drills
5. Manage existing and previous injuries - and adjust your technique accordinglyThe easiest way to develop a new injury is to aggravate a previous injury or weakness. If you had an injury last season that has since healed, put in extra effort to strengthen the associated muscles for this season. Consider using a brace or strapping for additional support during training and matches. By doing this, you’re giving yourself the best chance of a long and injury-free season, especially when you know that you already may be more vulnerable. If you have sustained a new injury, take the appropriate time and care to manage it. Having an injury makes you significantly more vulnerable to sustaining further injuries as often your gait, movement and biomechanics will change because of it. See your physiotherapist, listen to their advice, and follow your treatment plan - they’re just trying to get you back to 100% as quickly as possible! If you feel a niggle... DON’T ignore it! Many injuries, like stress fractures, start as a mild ache or niggle and then can progress to a serious fracture. So get it seen to and treated long before this happens! Depending on the injury, you can save months of recovery - and time on the bench.
- Always invest time into a good warm-up
- Don’t skip your post-match routine, and always cool down, rehydrate and re-fuel with good nutrition
- Prepare for the season by building up your fitness in the weeks and months prior to starting training
- Work on your strength and flexibility, coordination, balance and agility
- Always wear shoes and clothing that will help your Netball performance, not put you at risk of injury
- Help manage previous or existing injuries with strapping, bracing, and changes in technique
- Don’t ignore aches or niggles