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AFL and lower leg injuries

Since 1996, the AFL has published an annual injury report covering its national elite male competition. The report details every injury that occurred from day 1 of preseason until the final game of the year. The consistency in reporting injuries for the last 26 years has provided a unique opportunity to investigate injury prevalence and understand what parts of the body are most frequently injured.

The most prevalent injuries in the AFL are:

  1. Hamstring strains (19.1 missed games/club/season)
  2. ACL injuries (16.7 missed games/club/season)
  3. Shoulder sprains and dislocations (11.5 missed games/club/season)
  4. Leg and foot stress fractures (8.6 missed games/club/season)
  5. Ankle sprains or joint injuries (7.2 missed games/club/season) 

Irrespective of the level of football (AFL, AFLW, VFL, VFLW, NAB League, Local Football), the lower limbs are the most commonly injured body region but are not always the leading cause of missed games/club/season. This could be attributed to the athletes desire to play through lower limb related injuries, particularly low-grade ankle sprains. Lower limb injuries account for up to 40% to 68% of all adult footballers and 42% to 49% of all injuries to children. It is challenging to pinpoint primary risk factors that increase the likelihood of lower limb injuries. Athletes must emphasize activation exercises before exercise, consistency in training without overload, wearing suitable football boots and communication with health care professionals if they have any injury concerns.

Even if you are the ultimate professional in preparation and training, freak football injuries can still occur. Like most footballers, I have experienced my fair share of injuries, including a broken arm, broken nose, and torn ligaments in my ankle. I tore ligaments in my ankle long before I was a podiatrist and was advised to begin my rehabilitation with a podiatrist, which I am now grateful for. The process started with reducing inflammation and providing stability through a CAM walker. Once I was able to weight-bare, my podiatrist put together a detailed rehabilitation plan to rebuild the strength of my ankle.

Many years after the injury to my ankle, I am now working as a sports podiatrist. Just as the podiatrist did for me, I now have the opportunity to help all athletes return to sport as quickly and safely as possible. 

If you have any concerns regarding risk factors for injury, have a new injury, or have issues getting back to 100% with an old injury, please do not hesitate to book an appointment with me here at Talaria Podiatrist.

Podiatrist Mitchell Podhajski.


Think you might have a football condtion? Click here to read about Common Football Conditions

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