With over one million players nationwide, netball is the most popular female sport in Australia. The benefits of playing netball include improved hand-eye coordination, increased muscle strength and stamina, development in the body’s cardiovascular system, increased flexibility, and improved upper body strength by working key arm muscles. Despite the numerous health and fitness benefits, injuries are increasingly common in netball with the sport obtaining an injury rate of 14 injuries per 1,000 hours played. Out of all injuries, the knee is the most frequently injured joint in netball, with 25% of knee injuries recorded from the sport involving a rupture of the ACL. An ACL injury can be detrimental to netballers as it might require surgery, prolonged rehabilitation, and significant time away from the sport. Other less severe netball knee injuries include ligament sprains, dislocated kneecaps, or torn cartilages. Due to the high risk of knee injury, it is essential for netballers to follow a targeted warm-up, aimed at improving the players technique, strength, and agility, and therefore further prevent injuries.
Netball Australia has established a warm-up routine known as the ‘Knee Program’ designed to enhance movement efficiency and prevent injury. The following exercises are from the ‘Knee Program’ and are recommended to be performed before each court work or match play session. For maximum effectiveness and to maintain results the ‘Knee Program’ should be completed at least twice a week.
- Partner Circling Jog
- ‘A’ Skip
- High Knees
- Butt Flicks
- Calf Bounces
- Side Skip and Squat
- Lateral High Knees
- Forward and Backward, Lateral Shuffle
- Forward and Backward, Lateral Bound
- Walking Lunge and Rotation
- Walking Hamstrings/Gluteals
- Target Stretching
The exercises above have been suggested as part of warm-up. In terms of injury prevention, movement quality is another very important aspect. In netball, it is of ultimate importance to ensure players can squat, jump, land and change direction with good technique. Adopting strengthening and conditioning strategies combined with good movement technique covers one of the pillars that will reduce the risk of injury.
For more information on preventing knee injuries and rehabilitation head to https://ahpphysio.com.au/