WINTER IS COMING
With netball season starting across the country, us physiotherapists here at LifeForce are bracing ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of netball-related injuries to some of our clients. Over 430,000 people regularly play netball in Australia every year, with well over 75% of those people playing at least fortnightly. The vast majority of netballers are female (8:1 ratio of women to men) and the highest represented age group are those between 15-17 years.
ARE YOU AT INCREASED RISK OF INJURY?
Australia has the highest rate of ACL (knee ligament) reconstruction surgery in the world, something that we should not be proud of. ACL injuries are potentially life-altering, but more and more evidence is surfacing to show that ACL injuries aren’t just unfortunate incidents, but are largely related to poor proprioception and neuromuscular control.
Hypermobility is defined as a condition where a person’s joints are more flexible than normal. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it can make a person more prone to joint injuries than someone with ‘normal’ joint range of movement. Up to 25% of school children are hypermobile, and girls are more often affected than boys.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
Hypermobility and reduced neuromuscular control often go hand in hand. In netball, being hypermobile makes you up to 43% more likely to sustain a joint injury, most commonly to the knees or ankles. So at any one time on a netball court, up to 4 players (and don’t forget the umpires!) might be at a significantly greater risk of injury than the other players. If you or family members are involved in netball, and are a little bit bendy, it’s something worth thinking about!
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Can you “fix” your hypermobility? Short answer; no. Can you reduce the risk of injury that comes with being hypermobile? You sure can!
Being hypermobile is just like being a fast car – your body is the car, and your brain is the driver. If you are driving a high-performance Ferrari at 150km/h, any slight movement of the steering wheel will move the car side to side quite a bit, so you have to have very good control over the wheel to stay safe. The same thing applies to being a high-performance hypermobile human; your brain needs to have excellent control over your muscles to make sure that you don’t swerve all over the road and crash. Or roll your ankle or injure your knee. Simply put; more muscle control = less injuries!
Proprioception plays an important part in muscle control and injury prevention. If you don’t know what that is, then click here to read the short (and might I say, highly entertaining) article that I wrote on proprioception a while back. A systematic review of studies in this area has shown that by working on your balance, proprioception, muscle strength and muscle control, you can significantly reduce the risks of ACL injury and other injuries associated with hypermobility.
Even for those with normal joint mobility, netball is still a common cause of ankle or knee injuries; I’m sure if you’ve spent any time playing this wonderful sport, you’ll have seen somebody clutching at a knee or ankle, or have been there yourself. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of clients who have a string of netball-related injuries, most of which could have been prevented by being just that little bit stronger or having better body awareness and control.
Chat to your physiotherapist about injury prevention; a little time spent at home doing your exercises now could mean a whole lot more time spent tearing up the court later! Call 8289 2800 to organise an appointment with a LifeForce physio in Golden Grove, today!