Article by Jess Clarey
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.
Knee reconstructions (especially from ACL injury) are among the season or career threatening injuries. The rate of ACL injury in 2013 was again far higher in pre-season and early rounds, compared to the winter months, while northern AFL teams tend to have slightly higher rates of ACL injury than southern AFL teams.
AFL Injury Statistics
The following injury statistics have been drawn from the AFL 2013 season injury report.
The report authors stated that there were increases in overall injury incidence, prevalence and recurrence rates for the 2013 season, but no significant statistical change in the three year-period 2011-2013, compared to the previous three-year period covering 2008-10.
There was a statistically-significant increase in both injury incidence and prevalence over the years 2008-2013 (“High interchange era”) compared to the years 2002-2007 (“Low interchange era”).
Hamstring strain is still the number one injury in the game in terms of both incidence and prevalence (missed games).
It was found that hamstring and groin injury incidence and prevalence in the three-year period 2011-2013 (since the introduction of the substitute rule) were both significantly lower than the previous three-year period 2008-2010 but, in contrast, calf, knee tendon and other leg/foot/ankle injury incidence and prevalence were significantly higher in the recent three-year period 2011-2013 compared to 2008-2010.
In 2013, an 'average club list' of 46 players would now expect to have 8.2 players missing due to injury in any given week, compared to recent year totals of 7.8 players in 2012 and 8.4 players for the 2011 year.
The years 2011-13 had an increase in incidence of concussion compared to the nine previous years of the injury survey, even though the incidence was still low ... on average 1 player per club missing games each year due to concussion
Concussion has been a major injury concern for all sports in recent years. Further concerns will be raised with the possible link between concussions suffered in sport and neurodegenerative conditions in later life. Reflecting these concerns, the AFL and AFLDA introduced revised Concussion Management Guidelines at the beginning of the 2011 and 2013 seasons that reinforced a more conservative approach to concussion management.
It is also worth noting that the recurrence rate for hamstring injuries in 2013 was, at 24%, higher than recent years, but still well below the recurrence rates seen in the 1990s.
Every year the AFL monitors injury rates and attempts to modify the rules in the best interest of player welfare.
Link to full report - AFL Injury Report - 2013 Season
Common AFL Injuries in Detail
- ACL injury
- Knee Ligament Injuries
- Meniscus tears
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Patella Tendonitis (Tendinopathy)
- Chondromalacia Patella
- ITB Syndrome
- Knee Arthritis
- Plica Syndrome
- Bursitis Knee
- Sprained Ankle
- High Ankle Sprain
- Anterior Ankle Impingement
- Peroneal Tendonitis
- Retrocalcaneal Bursitis
- Hip labral tear
- Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)
- Gluteal Tendinopathy
- Hip Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Stress Fracture
- Trochanteric Bursitis
- Back Muscle Pain
- Bulging Disc
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Facet Joint Pain
- Sacroiliac Joint Pain
- Pinched Nerve
- AC Joint Injury
- Dislocated Shoulder
- Shoulder Tendonitis
- Rotator Cuff Syndrome
- Shoulder Impingement
- Bursitis Shoulder
Common Treatments for AFL Injuries
FAQs about AFL Injuries
Helpful Products for AFL Players
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Last updated 05-May-2016 07:06 PM
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