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Osteopathy’s role in AFL

Osteopathy’s role in AFL

Are you a footy player that just pushes through your niggling aches and pains? Do you have a persistent injury that just keeps coming back every season?

If you’d rather be on the field playing the game you love instead of sitting on the pine, osteopathy could be the answer you’re looking for.

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AFL is one of Australia’s most popular sports for both men and women. Although it is an ever-changing sport with skill progression and constant rules changes, the principles remain the same.
AFL is a high impact sport which has significant physical requirements on your body, and involves a combination of movements that require fitness, agility, mobility, strength, stability, and flexibility. Therefore, any injury you sustain can have an impact on your ability to play, and we understand just how frustrating that can be.

Common injuries seen by osteopaths

In AFL, a player will have intense bursts of acceleration, changes in direction, will tackle, kick, handpass, jump, land, and attempt to take mark of the year. Each movement mentioned has a toll on your body and can potentially cause an injury.

A common mistake that many footy players make is ignoring a niggle. Its common to hear a player say “I can play through it; she’ll be right mate. It’s just a stinger” However, a minor strain may be causing your body to compensate in other ways, which can reduce your performance and increase the risk of a more severe injury.
Some of the common injuries we see in our footy players include:

  • Corkies
  • Muscle strains or tears including groin, hamstrings and calves
  • Joint sprains such as shoulders, spine, hips, knees, and ankles
  • Repetitive load injuries such as achilles tendinopathies
  • Joint dislocations, or more rarely bone fractures.

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How can an osteopath help?

Osteopaths have several duties with injury prevention in AFL and help improve your performance. Osteopaths may be able to assist with:

  • Identifying areas of restriction or dysfunction in your body through a thorough assessment
  • Correcting your biomechanics (movement patterns) therefore optimising your performance.
  • Enhancing your core strength and flexibility with hands on techniques.
  • Prescribing specific exercises to engage and improve your strength, flexibility, agility,
  • stability, mobility, and fitness.
  • Use hands on treatment such as massage, muscle energy techniques, manipulation, and dry needling to assist with improving mobility, reducing muscle tension, and improving blood flow

Osteopaths also play a key role in injury rehabilitation by:

  • Managing injuries with hands-on manual therapy
  • Providing an accurate diagnosis.
  • Provide a likely timeframe for returning to the field
  • Provide advice on things that you can do to support your healing process, as well as what to avoid

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Tips to avoid injury

AFL requires numerous physical attributes like fitness, agility, mobility, strength, stability, and flexibility. Without each component being at its optimum, you are more likely to see injuries.

By strengthening and toning your muscles you may help to prevent muscle tears or repetitive strain injuries such as tendinopathies. By maintaining mobility and flexibility, you can help reduce the likelihood of sprains and strains, and by ensuring optimal stability and balance you may help prevent dislocations or sprains.

For best training regime in pre-season, you should concentrate on:

  • Improving strength, agility, stability, mobility, and flexibility
  • Improving your overall fitness and running capacity
  • Building team rapport and develop team strategies

During the season, the most important thing to focus on is recovery and maintaining your pre-season fitness components. Remember not to overtrain as this will cause an injury.

You should also make sure to properly warm up prior to training or game days, as well as doing an adequate cool down afterward.

What happens if I do get an injury?

Unfortunately, accidents can happen. If you do end up getting injured on the footy field, an osteopath will be able to assess the injury and provide hands-on treatment (if appropriate) and advice.
Bodywell osteopaths Bridget Hammond and Sarah Collins have a particular interest in AFL and treating sporting injuries. Come in and see one of the team and let’s get you off the pine and back on the field playing the game you love!
If you would like to make an appointment, you can book online here:
Or if you have any questions please call us on (03) 9717 1200 or email