AFL Injuries

Article by Jess Clarey

AFL Injuries

afl injuries

Australian Rules Football (AFL) is known for its high level of physical body contact. These high impact collisions can occur from any direction. Players typically wear no protective padding of any kind except for a mouth guard. As such, impact injury rates tend to be high.

Soft tissue injuries are the most frequent, including injuries to the hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles.

Full contact play with the potential to be tackled or bumped from any angle means that the risk of a knee being twisted or caught on a dangerous angle is high. Injuries to the knee, ankle and shoulder joints are common.

Hamstring strain is the most common AFL player injury.

AFL Injury Statistics

The following injury statistics have been drawn from the AFL 2015 season injury report:


  • During the 2015 AFL season, there was an average of 37.7 new injuries per team causing 156.2 home & away and finals games to be missed.
  • Hamstring injuries continue to be the number one injury concern (with an average of 5.2 new injuries causing 19.1 games missed per team). The overall incidence and prevalence of hamstring injuries was about average against historical data. Recurrence rates however remain relatively low (16%), reflecting improved understanding (particularly of intra-muscular tendon injuries) and/or more conservativemanagement.
  • Calf strains (with an average of 2.9 new injuries causing 5.9 games missed per team) continue to track above the historical average, although injury rates and severity remain below the high observed in season 2013 (3.7 new injuries causing 10.6 games missed per club). This is likely to represent improved conditioning strategies and/or management.
  • Groin injuries, which were once the third most common injury and cause of games missed in the AFL, remain low (with an average of 2.2 new cases of “groin strain or osteitis pubis” causing 7.1 games missed per team). This reflects improved prevention and management of groin injuries in the AFL.
  • ACL injury rates were on par with historical averages (with an average of 0.7 injuries causing 16.7 games missed per team).
  • Rates of leg and foot stress fractures returned to levels observed in the past after an increase in recent seasons (with an average of 0.7 injuries causing 8.6 missed games per year in season 2015). The reason for these change is unclear.
  • Rates of concussions causing missed games continue the trend up (with 1.5 new injuries causing 4.2 missed games per team). This reflects a more conservative approach, rather than a true increase in incidence. The incidence rate from the AFL concussion audit (which includes all concussions, whether they missed games or not) was 6.0 per 1000 player hours (95% confidence interval 4.39-7.65), compared to the rate of 7.1 (95% CI 6.28-7.84) observed over the past 5 years. When expressed in similar figures to the AFL Injury Survey i.e.40 players for 22games –the incidence figure would be 5.3 new injuries per team in 2015, with the 5-year concussion rate at 6.2 new injuries per team per year.
  • There is a notable increase in “other” injuries in a number of categories (e.g.“leg/foot/ankle” and “hip/groin/thigh”). The cause of this is not clear, but is likely to reflect an interpretation/classification issue rather than a significant change in specific injury types.

Every year the AFL monitors injury rates and attempts to modify the rules in the best interest of player welfare.

Common AFL Injuries in Detail

Knee Pain

Adolescent Knee:

Ankle Injuries

Foot Pain

Groin Pain

Hip Pain

Back Pain

Shoulder Pain

Muscle Pain

Neck Pain

Wrist / Hand Injuries

Common Adolescent Football Injuries

Knee Pain

Heel Pain

Injury Prevention

Football Injury Risk Screening

Injury Prevention Strategies

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  • AC Joint Injury
  • Achilles Tendon Rupture
  • Achilles Tendonitis / Tendinitis
  • ACL Injury
  • Adductor Tendinopathy
  • Anterior Ankle Impingement
  • Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head
  • Back Muscle Pain
  • Bicep Tendonitis
  • Bulging Disc
  • Bursitis Knee
  • Bursitis Shoulder
  • Calf Muscle Tear
  • Chondromalacia Patella
  • Compartment Syndrome
  • Corked Thigh
  • Cramps
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Dislocated Shoulder
  • DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
  • Facet Joint Pain
  • Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)
  • Gluteal Tendinopathy
  • Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome
  • Groin Strain
  • Hamstring Strain
  • Heel Spur
  • High Ankle Sprain
  • Hip Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
  • Hip Labral Tear
  • Hip Pointer
  • ITB Syndrome
  • Knee Arthritis
  • Knee Ligament Injuries
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Morton's Neuroma
  • Muscle Strain (Muscle Pain)
  • Neck Arm Pain
  • Neck Headache
  • Osgood Schlatter's
  • Osteitis Pubis
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Patella Tendonitis (Tendinopathy)
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
  • Peroneal Tendonitis
  • Pes Planus - Flat Feet
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Plica Syndrome
  • Poor Hip Core
  • Posterior Ankle Impingement
  • Retrocalcaneal Bursitis
  • Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinitis
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Severs Disease
  • Shin Splints
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Shoulder Tendonitis
  • Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylolysis (Back Stress Fracture)
  • Sprained Ankle
  • Stress Fracture
  • Stress Fracture Feet
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Thigh Strain
  • Thumb Sprain
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Trochanteric Bursitis
  • Wry Neck
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    AFL injuries

    Common Treatments for AFL Injuries

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • What to do after a Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Core Exercises
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Orthotics
  • Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Walking Boot
  • ACL Injury Prevention
  • Ankle Strapping
  • Brace or Support
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Knee Arthroscopy
  • Neurodynamics
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
  • FAQs about AFL Injuries

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • How Does Kinesiology Tape Reduce Swelling?
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • The Best Core Exercises
  • Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good?
  • How Does an Exercise Ball Help Back Pain?
  • How to Strap an Ankle
  • Post-Run Soreness: Should You Be Concerned?
  • Rotator Cuff: What is it?
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are Common Adolescent / Children Leg Injuries?
  • What are Growing Pains?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • What's Your Core Stability Score?
  • When is the Best Time for a Pre-Event Massage?
  • Helpful Products for AFL Players

    AFL Injuries

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    Last updated 21-Apr-2017 03:30 PM

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