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AFL injury rates & exercises to reduce them

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Injuries are common in sporting settings, and the AFL is no exception to this. Australian rules football is a unique sport in that it involves change of direction, high speed running, jumping, kicking and contact. In 2018 (the most recent data available), the incidence of hamstring injures per club was 7.34, followed by other leg and foot injuries (3.79) and ankle injuries (3.55).

There are many injury prevention programs available for many sports, including AFL (footy first and prep to play), soccer (football Australia perform +, fifa 11+) and netball (the knee program). Similar themes are found across these program, such as jumping and landing with good technique and eccentric loading on the main muscle groups. These programs have been found to reduce injury rates between 33% up to 80%.

The exercises should be completed twice a week, either at the end of training or on days other than training. The main starting exercises in these are:

1) Nordic curl – start with 2 sets of 5 reps

2) Squats with a heel raise – 2 sets of 30 seconds

3) Copenhagen adduction – 2 sets of 5 reps

These programs can be found online and should be implemented in all local level sports. Consult with your physiotherapist to guide you on the form and progression of these exercises.

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