As it is very well known, AFL is a high contact sport. It also requires a mixture of endurance and high speed running, ball handling, kicking and tackling skills. Most of the injuries that are sustained throughout the AFL games and training, are the result of these factors.
According to recent research, and on the basis of an annual injury report from the AFL, the most common injuries are:
- Hamstring strains
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee) injury
- Shoulder sprains and dislocations
Part 1 of this blog outlines hamstring strains and ACL injuries, the AFL risk factors, severity of the injuries & their symptoms.
AFL risk factors:
- High speed running (sprinting)
- Collecting the ball from the ground whilst running (trunk and hip flexed, knee extended)
Involves a small number of muscle fibers being torn, creating localised pain, but no loss of strength. Following these injuries players can return to play within 2-4 weeks.
These muscle injuries involve a significant number of muscle fibers that cause more pain and swelling, as well as reducing strength and movement (mainly due to the significant amount of pain). Generally, you can return to play 4-6 weeks, mainly to allow healing to occur properly.
Grade 3 muscle tears involve a complete tear of muscle so they are obviously more serious. It takes players the longer time of 8-12 weeks to return to play.
· Pain in the back of the thigh
· Can have a sudden onset
· Swelling and bruising may be present
· Difficult to walk
· Unable to run
· Reduction in strength
- First 48 hours – RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
- Early pain-free muscle contractions
- Soft tissue treatment
- A strengthening program tailored to the extent of muscle damage
Sidestepping and landing on an extended knee is the most common non-contact mechanism of an ACL injury in the AFL. Risk factors include speed and change of direction, knee instability and the angle of landing.
ACL Injuries Are Graded In Terms Of Their Severity
Grade 1- mild tear
Grade 2- moderate tear
Grade 3- complete tear
Sudden pain especially in the first few minutes after injury
- Audible pop or crack
- Inability to continue the activity
- Swelling minimal can be delayed
- Restricted knee movement
Treatment varies greatly depending on the severity and can range from conservative management where you able to work with a Physio and return to activity in 6-8 weeks. Severe cases involve surgery, part 2 of frequently occurring AFL injuries covers, concussion, shoulder sprain, dislocation & contusions. If you’re suffering from a sporting injury and would like to find out more you can make a booking with a Physio at your nearest practice.
This blog was written by Maddie Lyer from the Christies Beach practice.