85% of netball injuries can be attributed to the knee and ankle. Research tells us that most of these occur due to a poor landing technique. Out of all of these injuries the one of most concern is a ruptured ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) which in most cases requires a surgical repair and a lengthy 6-12 month rehabilitation process.
ACL ruptures are a significant problem to our girls. Females are 4-6 times more likely than males to rupture their ACL and the most at risk age group is 15-18 years. Whilst the rehabilitation process is at least an inconvenience, the real concern is that 65% of girls who suffer from an ACL rupture WILL NOT return to sport. And in 20 years they will have some form of osteoarthritis in their knee. (Insert shocked emoji!)
In my role as National Chairperson of Sports Physiotherapy Australia I have the privilege to be involved in nationalised plans around these issues. The current government is looking very closely at injuries in our children and devising plans on how we stop major injuries and keep kids participating in exercise for their entire lives. We all are well aware of the importance of exercise in preventing chronic disease. Reducing catastrophic injuries such as ACL’s in young netballers may be a focus.
Netball Australia has released the KNEE program which aims to not only reduce injuries but improve strength, balance and performance at the same time and to keep our girls active for life. The KNEE program looks at those critical factors we need to improve – landing, change of direction and deceleration.
The KNEE program should form the warm-up and strength and conditioning part of training and pre-game preparation. We know it should be performed on an ongoing basis 2-3 times per week to be effective. AFL and soccer both have similar programs which have been successful at reducing injuries on an international scale. So why aren’t we using it? Or are we?
Let’s realize that the KNEE program:
- Is an evidence based warm up tailored to the specific demands of netballers
- Has the potential to reduce the rate of lower limb injuries, particularly to the ACL an injury that accounts for over 25% of all netball injuries annually
- Has the potential to provide a solid foundation from which skills are developed ensuring technique is maximized
- Has the potential to improve the performance of individual players by improving strength, and improving technique of landing, change of direction and deceleration
- Has the potential to provide the team with a competitive advantage –if there are less injuries more players will be available for selection which can lead to better overall team performance
Check out the great digital resources at http://knee.netball.com.au and get started in your team. Junior resources are available and cover those in the 11-14 year ages.
If you have any queries then please don’t hesitate to contact Lauren Gradwell or Holly Brasher at SquareOne Physiotherapy. We are both Netball Australia endorsed providers of the KNEE program and would be happy to help you implement or refine the KNEE program with your daughter or her team.
APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist
Director SquareOne Performance Physio and Pilates
National Chairperson Sports Physio Australia
Proud Sponsor of Mosman Netball.