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Set yourself up for the season: Common injuries and prevention in AFL

wyong magpies, afl, central coast, sports physio
With the AFL pre-season underway, it’s important to be aware of the most common injuries sustained in AFL and consider strategies to prevent them.

Common Injuries

There are 2 types of injuries that occur in AFL:

Acute injuries: Acute injuries are caused by direct contact and blows (from another player, the ball, falling or landing).

Non-contact injuries: Non-contact injuries include strains and overuse injuries.

The most common AFL injuries include:

Hamstring strains
Hamstring strain injuries are common across a range of sports, especially those involving sprinting, kicking and high-speed skills. They remain one of the main causes of time lost to injury within all levels of Aussie rules football. Potential risk factors to hamstring strains include hamstring muscle weakness and thigh muscle imbalance, previous hamstring injury, other previous injury and age. Read more here.

Hand and finger injuries
Injuries to the hands and fingers are very common in Aussie rules and are often poorly managed leading to poor range of motion, strength, function and performance. Appropriate management early is important to ensure adequate rehabilitation. Strengthening and skills training is important in the pre-season to minimise the risk of injuries.

Shoulder (AC joint) injuries
Injuries to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint often occur due to a direct blow or fall. Training strength and stability of the rotator cuff muscles is important in helping to prevent such injuries.

Knee (ACL) injuries
ACL injuries often occur from non-contact scenarios (landing and running). Correct landing technique and running style are vital in preventing ACL injuries. Strengthening exercises can also be implemented to help prevent injury.

Injury prevention strategies

A pre-season screening will assess a range of factors and look to identify potential risks of injury and other factors which may impact your training or performance. It will assess strength, mobility, flexibility and functional movement. For more information on pre-season screenings, read our blog here.

Strength and conditioning
Strength and conditioning plays a role in 2 main aspects:

- Enhancing performance
- Injury prevention

The AFL Footy First program is designed to prevent leg injuries through a warm-up and graded strength program, designed to be implemented during the pre-season.

Coaches manual

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

When rehabilitating from an injury, it is important to work closely with a Physiotherapist or health professional to reintroduce strength training when appropriate.
Warm-up and cool down
A specific warm-up should be performed before all training sessions and games, as well as a cool down.
The AFL footy first program also has a warm-up program which can be followed.
For more AFL information and resources, click here.

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