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AFL Injuries and Chiropractic

With the AFL finals being conducted this month we are certainly going to see some rough and tough footy as the 8 final clubs strive to win the 2018 Premiership. At this time many local competitions are wrapping up and the footy at these levels will just be as intense. Many players are likely to sustain injuries, some of which can be managed by your Chiro, and some of which might even be preventable with the help of a Chiro.

Each year the AFL releases data on the season’s injuries and we now have access to many years’ worth of data on injuries. We can assume that the AFL data is quite like what we see at the local club level. Some of this injury data is:

  • The Hip/Groin/Thigh is the most commonly injured area (29% of all new injuries), with hamstring strains accounting 14% of all new injuries.
  • Injuries to the Hip/Groin/Thigh account for 34.9 (22%) missed games, with hamstrings accounting for 19.1 (12%).
  • Shin/ankle/foot is also commonly injured and accounts for 26% of all new injuries. These injuries account for 42.4 (27%) of games missed.
  • Knee injuries, whilst only accounting for 5.3 (14%) of injuries account for a significant number of games missed (37.4 games or 24%).
  • Lower limb injuries account for 68% of all injuries.
  • Many of the remaining injuries are thought to be secondary to contact, for example fractures of the forearm, wrist and hand.
  • Concussions have been on a steady rise in recent years. This is thought to be due to increased recording and raised awareness of the effects of concussion.

The most common footy injuries seen by local Chiros are: hamstring, groin, hip and shoulder injuries. These injuries are also the most prevalent at the elite level, accounting for a quarter of the injuries seen in AFL players in the 2015 season. As the injury type and prevalence amongst AFL players is like that seen at the local level, much of what we learn from the AFL injuries can be implemented into rehab programs to help our local clubs.


If you, a family member, friend or team mate do happen to get injured on the footy field, having the injury assessed and treated as quickly as possible by your local Chiro will give you the best chances of a speedy recovery amd get you back on the field playing the game you love.

When you attend the clinic, your Chiro will take a thorough history and may even ask you to mimic the injury sustained on the field as this will help to achieve an accurate diagnosis. A detailed physical, neurological and orthopaedic exam will follow with a focus on the injured area but an exam of the spine and pelvis is always part of a standard Chiropractic examination and may be followed by spinal X-Rays. Once the diagnosis is reached and if no further referral is required, the treatment of the affected joint, muscle, spine will vary depending on the type and severity. Treatment may include:

  • Ice or heat depending on how long the injury has been present
  • Strapping of the affected area
  • Massage
  • Dry needling
  • Peripheral and spinal mobilization and adjustments
  • Advice on rest, day to day modifications, time away from footy, what training is OK to perform that will not exacerbate the injury.

Most footy injuries take several weeks to recover and post recovery a program of strengthening and prevention will also be prescribed to keep you playing the sport you love.