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Injured Playing Australian Rules Football? Our Physios will get you back on the field

AFL has the 10th highest participation rate in Australian sport.  Over the last four decades AFL has changed; the speed has doubled, actual “play” has decreased, average number of collisions has doubled and athletes are on average 6cm taller and 7.2kg heavier.

Injuries occur during both competition (78% of AFL injuries) and training (13%), with the higher incidences of injuries occurring early in the season.  Striking is responsible for causing 28% of injuries, collision causes 21%, while overuse injuries cause 12% of all injuries. Sprains account for 30% of all AFL injuries and fractures 13%.

Hamstring injuries

Hamstrings are the most common AFL injury each year with 6 injuries occurring per club.  Hamstring strains occur due to over striding when close to maximum speed and trying to maintain speed.  Other common mechanisms of hamstring strain injury in AFL are leaning forward when trying to maintain or achieve extra speed, bending to pick up the ball whilst running or attempting to break out of a tackle.  Hamstring injuries are more common with slippery grounds due to less traction (Orchard, 2000).

Groin Strains and Pubic Stress Syndrome

Groin strains and pubic stress syndrome are the 2nd most frequent injury in AFL, behind hamstring strains. Overloading of the pelvic ring is common due to repetitive and frequent kicking and changing direction during running and sprinting.

Groin strains often occur due to ground contact on to hard ground.

Quadriceps strains

Quadriceps strains are more frequent on the dominant side during training, when the practice environment is less varied than during a game. They occur more often during short kicks when the player is running at high speeds.

Hand injuries 

Recreational AFL players are more likely to injure their upper limbs than competitive participants. This may be due to poor skill and coordination when tackling and poor tackling and falling techniques.

Knee injuries 

Extrinsic factors such as ground hardness and increased traction can lead to increased knee injuries.  Athletes with longer cleats have even greater boot to ground traction.

The strongest risk factor for ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury was a past history of ACL reconstruction.  Players returning from ACL reconstruction have a 10 times greater risk of reoccurrence in the immediate months after their return and a four times greater risk of injuring either knee in their football career.

PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries are more common and prevalent in ruckmen who jump and duel for the ball during the centre bounce.

Injury Prevention

Age, previous injury and inadequate training have all been shown to increase incidence of injury. Cool downs have been shown to have a protective effect on amateur AFL participant injury rates.


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