Common AFL Football injuries that we see include:
- Ankle Sprains
- Knee Ligament (ACL) Injuries
- AC joint (Shoulder) injuries
Australian Rules Football (AFL) is one of favourite Australian sporting past times, played by all genders, ages and skill level. However, with a 360-degree nature to the modern game, injuries are all too frequent, whether it be a slight strain or a full rupture.
Some of the more common football injuries we see here at myPhysioSA are ankle sprains (better known as a ‘rolled ankle’), Acromio-Clavicular (AC) joint injuries, and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries.
The severity of injuries are graded with consideration of things such as instability, tearing and loss of functional control.
Like most injuries, there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of any of these three common injuries occurring.
Looking at the injuries individually, there are a number of risk factors which can be of influence.
1)A rolled ankle is an injury which most football players will experience in their career, and injured through rolling and overstretching of the outside of the ankle, either while running or landing.
Similar to that of the ACL, there is a focus on landing technique looking at hip and knee control, and initial contact point of the foot when landing.
In line with the others, strengthening of the lower limb is suggested, this can be done through:
- calf raises (seated and standing)
- use of a theraband
- Wobble boards, 5 star jumping, and toe taps are all exercises which can be performed prior to training and take all of 5 minutes to complete, yet drastically improve the stability of your ankle.
Taping to prevent a rolled ankle is common practice in football clubs, AC and ACL in taping however is not. Tape will support the ligaments controlling the joint, however by performing injury prevention exercises the taping may not be necessary. Taping however can be utilised following injury and reintroduction into game play and encouraged until full rehabilitation is complete.
2) Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries typically occur through a non-contact type format (landing, running, etc.), therefore a large focus is placed on correct landing technique and running style i.e. soft knees when landing and ensuring knees remain behind toes.
To compliment this training focus, hip, knee and feet alignment and control are crucial in assessment, as a majority of muscles which contribute to knee control originate at the hip.
Therefore hip control and strengthening is important.
This can be achieved through exercises like:
- hip hitching
- eccentric hamstring/quadriceps
3) Acromio-clavicular injuries typically occur two ways; either direct blow to the top of shoulder i.e. hip and shoulder, or falling on an out stretched hand.
Due to the nature of an AC injury, emphasis is placed on flexibility, coordination and strength with the particular focus on the latter.
Strengthening focus is placed upon four muscles which control shoulder stability, otherwise known as the rotator cuff. Theraband exercises are really popular in training of these muscles. To ensure appropriate and maximal benefits from these exercises, it is important when training these muscles that the individual has correct shoulder/scapula setting.
The Best Prevention of Football Injuries are:
A Dynamic Warmup
One of the most important and often over-looked prevention methods is a thorough warm-up, including (but not limited to):
- sport specific agility exercises
This encompasses such things as:
- grape vine
- forwards and backwards jogging
- sumo squats
- calf raises
- forward and back jumping
- jump and stick
- cone running with 3 step deceleration
These particular types of exercises, when taught correctly, aim to train effective and efficient running/landing techniques through increasing factors such as strength and stability.
The above information is just a short summary.
We have many detailed posts and videos on the rest of our website with details on exercises you can start doing right away.
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At myPhysioSA we can assess your ankle, knee and shoulder and teach you specific exercises to improve your strength, agility, and control.
This will not only lessen the chances of injury but will usually also improve you sports performance.
David Wilson, myPhysioSA Partner Physiotherapist Mount Barker