Preventing Australian Football Injuries –

During the football season, we hear a lot about football injuries. Whether it be fractures, dislocations or sprains, injuries seem to be a common occurrence in Australian football. 

This doesn’t have to be the case though, with injury risks able to be reduced. All footballers need to do is simply prepare themselves before running onto the field. 

Three amateur Australian Rules players competing for the ball

To help reduce football injury risks, Smartplay, Sports Medicine Australia’s sports injury prevention program funded by VicHealth and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, offers the following advice: 

Understand the following factors increase your injury risk:

  • Having had a sports injury in the previous 12 months
  • Being aged 25 years or older
  • Playing in midfield positions
  • Persistent back problems diagnosed by a health professional
  • Increasing age and decreasing quadriceps flexibility, for sustaining a hamstring injury
  • A history of two or more injuries to the lower body, in the previous football season.
Athlete with leg pain

Know the following factors decrease your injury risk:

  • Playing football in the last 12 months
  • Excellent stamina
  • Playing football in the last 12 months
  • Cooling down after training sessions
  • Playing a modified rules version at junior level
  • Participating in one or more hours per week of weight training during the season, to decrease the risk of lower body injury.

 Undertake good preparation 

• Undertake training sessions prior to competition to ensure readiness to play. • Undertake pre-season training to improve strength, flexibility, stamina, agility and balance. A trained coach or fitness advisor can guide you in the right direction. • Before playing competitively learn, practice and use correct skills and techniques. 

Athlete resting after training

Practise pre-game safety 

• Complete a warm up including stretching, slow jogging and running activities, with and without a football. • Eat a balanced, nutritional diet. • Drink water before a game or training session. • Avoid drinking alcohol 48 hours before a game. • Seek professional advice about the most appropriate boots to wear for playing conditions. • Wear sunscreen and reapply during breaks on sunny days. 

Practise game safety 

• Wear a mouthguard, preferably custom-fitted, at all times. • Protective headgear, ankle braces and thigh protectors can protect players with a history of head, ankle or thigh injuries. • Drink water during and after a game or training session. • Avoid drinking alcohol after a game. 

These safety tips will not only decrease your chances of being sidelined with an injury but will increase your chances of playing a better game. For further advice on how to prevent football injuries, download a copy of the Smartplay Preventing Australian Football Injuries.