Acute Injury Management in Netball

Written by Kate Bunten

Is it time to call the POLICE?

Everyone has heard of the term RICE, but did you know that RICE was officially retracted in 2014 by its creator because it no longer stands up to research evidence?1 So, what should we do after an injury?

Currently, the most widely accepted* injury management acronym is P.O.L.I.C.E. With Rest swapped out for Protection & Optimal Loading. This better reflects current evidence that early, controlled loading promotes cell regeneration whereas complete rest can have negative effects on tissue health and function.2 Our bodies adapt to the stresses they are exposed to! So, whilst protecting the injury site from further injury is important, athletes should be encouraged to trust to their bodies’ signals and start gentle active movement and loading as pain allows.

*Note: There is currently rising contention in the injury management space regarding whether icing should be included at all. Keep your eyes peeled on our website for our upcoming blog which will further explore this debate.

Is there anything you should avoid post-injury?

After injury we want to create a happy healing environment and avoid things that may delay the healing process. This where the “Do No HARM” principle is useful.

In the first 48-72hrs after injury say NO to…

  • H – Heat
  • A – Alcohol or Anti-inflammatories
  • R – Re-injury/ Running
  • M – Massage

Heat, local massage, and alcohol intake can all increase blood flow to the injury site and therefore increase bruising & swelling.

Despite often getting a bad rap, Inflammation is a vital early stage of the healing process! Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can delay this process so best to stick to non-anti-inflammatory medications such as Paracetamol for pain relief if required.

When is the best time to see the Physio?

Most soft tissue injuries, such as an ankle sprain or muscle strain, can be safely managed at home for the hirst a few days, following the POLICE & No HARM principles. If pain and/or disability is high or fails to significantly improve in the first 3-7 days post-injury, it may be time to see the Physio.

The exceptions to this rule include suspected fractures and/or dislocations which should present to their GP/ urgent care/ emergency for x-ray imaging.

Signs of fracture/ dislocation may include:

  • Inability to bear weight on injured limb (Lower limb injury),
  • High degree of pain, bruising and swelling at a bony site
  • Deformity/malalignment

As always, if you have an injury that you need help in managing, the Darch Physio team is here to get you back on court ASAP. To book an appointment click here, or give us a call on 9303 4111.


  1. Bleakley, C. M., Glasgow, P. & MacAuley, D. C. (2012). PRICE needs updating, should we call the POLICE? British Journal of Sports Medicine. 46, 220–221.
  2. Khan KM, Scott A. Mechanotherapy: how physical therapists’ prescription of exercise promotes tissue repair. Br J Sports Med 2009;43:247–52