This week I have a Serious Article for you all (don’t worry, it won’t happen often). If you’ve been playing netball for a while, you’ll probably know that it has one of the highest rates of knee and ankle injuries – in Australia netballers are three times more likely to get lower leg or knee injuries than AFL, soccer or rugby players.
When you look at how netball is played, especially at the top level, it’s not hard to see why this is the case. There’s so much jumping, sprint starts and changes of direction, while the no-footwork rule means you have to stop sharply rather than decelerate.
I don’t play for England though, so I’m probably fine.
OK, I don’t usually spend my Thursday nights clearing the length of the circle with one jump. There is another key difference between my social team and the England team though – we don’t warm up. I don’t know about you but I always turn up for my social matches 5 minutes before they start – and if I do get there early, I make the most of the time to stand around and chat before we play. On the rare occasion I do run a few lengths of the court to warm up, I feel like a massive keeno.
The thing is, though, that warming up isn’t just about getting your heart rate up and feeling ready to go by the time you start playing. Warming up also gets your body to produce more synovial fluid, which is the stuff that cushions your joints. So if you just rock up to the courts and start playing right away, your joints will actually be lacking most of their protection. This is especially true in the cold weather or if you haven’t done much movement that day (hands up all you office workers).
OK, I’m scared. What can I do?
This isn’t a new release but I rediscovered it when I read about it again in Shine (the book about the Aussie Diamonds which you all NEED to read). The kind physios at Netball Australia noticed the high injury rates and decided to help by designing an injury-prevention warm up. I tried it today and it’s great – there’s a version specially designed for recreational netballers (basically anyone not playing Prem or Superleague in the UK) with loads of moves you can do. Not only will it help prevent injury, the moves are designed to help you move in a more efficient way when you play (i.e. look like a pro).
To conclude, my resolution from now on is to warm up for social matches from now on, even if everyone else laughs at me for taking it too seriously. Who’s with me??