Melbourne Physiotherapy Pilates + Fitness Group

AFL Injuries and Rehabilitation

AFL is a very physical, thrilling and fast-paced sport, making it a unique and physically demanding game. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the common injuries that AFL players may encounter and discuss how physiotherapy plays a vital role in their rehabilitation and return to the pitch.

Common Football Injuries

  1. Ankle Sprains: The rapid changes in direction and the physical contact involved in the sport can cause players to twist or roll their ankles, resulting in sprains. These injuries can vary in severity from minor ligament strains to full tears.
  2. Knee Injuries: AFL players often experience knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears, and meniscus injuries. These injuries are often caused by sudden stops, pivots, or collisions.
  3. Shoulder Dislocations: The frequent tackling in AFL can lead to shoulder dislocations. Players may also suffer from rotator cuff injuries and labral tears in the shoulder.
  4. Hamstring Strains: Hamstring strains are one of the most common in sports that involve sprinting and explosive movements. AFL players are susceptible to hamstring injuries, which can range from minor strains to complete tears.
  5. Concussions: Due to the physical nature of AFL, head injuries and concussions can occur, mainly during aerial contests for the ball or high tackles.
  6. Groin Injuries: Groin injuries, such as strains and pulls, are also prevalent in AFL. These injuries can be due to the rapid change in direction and intense physical demands of the sport.

What role do we play?

Physiotherapy plays a pivotal role in the rehabilitation of football injuries. Here’s how physiotherapists can assist players in their recovery:

  1. Assessment and Diagnosis: We begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment to understand the extent of the injury. We may use a range of diagnostic tools, such as ultrasound, MRI, or X-rays, to provide an accurate diagnosis. We can arrange referrals following our assessment.
  2. Pain Management: Effective pain management is crucial during the early stages of rehabilitation. We use various modalities, such as ice, heat, and electrical stimulation to alleviate pain and inflammation.
  3. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques like massage, joint mobilization, and stretching can help improve joint range of motion, reduce muscle tightness, and promote healing.
  4. Exercise Rehabilitation: We design personalised exercise programs to strengthen injured muscles, improve joint stability, and enhance proprioception. These exercises are crucial for returning to sport safely.
  5. Balance and Coordination Training: AFL players often require high levels of balance and coordination. We work on these aspects to reduce the risk of re-injury.
  6. Return to Sport Protocols: A critical part of the rehabilitation process involves ensuring that players are ready to return to the field safely. We use specific criteria, muscle testing and the latest evidence-based practice to determine when a player is fit to play again.
  7. Education and Injury Prevention: We will educate athletes on proper warm-up routines, stretching exercises, and injury prevention techniques to reduce the risk of future injuries. You then have the skills and knowledge to maintain independently!
  8. Psychological Support: Recovering from a sports injury can be mentally challenging. We often provide psychological support to help athletes cope with the psychological aspects of rehabilitation.


AFL is a physically demanding sport that comes with the risk of various injuries. However, with the right support, players can recover effectively and return to the pitch with confidence. We play a crucial role in diagnosing, treating, and preventing injuries, ensuring that AFL remains an exciting and competitive sport for all involved. If you’re an AFL player or a sports enthusiast, don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our experienced physiotherapists to begin your path to recovery.


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March 14, 2024
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