Australian Rules Football (AFL) and Podiatry

The physical requirements of the modern-day Australian Rules Football player have significantly shifted over the decades.

Today, at the highest level of the game, players must have their bodies in peak physical condition as they would look to run (at varying speeds/intensity) an average between 9-20 kilometres per game.

It’s not just the total distance covered in the game which makes the sport unique, throughout a match a footballer will be required to sprint, tackle, jump, handball and kick repeatedly.

Due to the physical nature of football acute injuries are common especially, to the lower limb; these injuries can be either soft tissue or bone related.

These types of injuries can occur suddenly and have the potential to cause significant pain.

Examples of common acute injuries a footballer may be exposed to are:

Overuse/ chronic injuries occur through excessive wear and tear of a specific muscle, tendon, and ligament without adequate recovery. With increments of exercise throughout the preseason, if not properly adapted the player may expose themselves to potential injuries that may hinder their ability to perform at peak fitness throughout the year. Overuse use injuries that commonly affect a footballer’s lower limb are:

Common football injuries for children involve:

The injuries above can be prevented and the time spent on the sidelines may be reduced if interventions are applied appropriately. Early assessment and biomechanical review of the patient’s muscle, joint, ligament and bone integrity will enable the athlete to be placed in the most appropriate treatment plan to help heal and rehabilitate the injury.

Specific treatment such as shockwave therapy, prolotherapy, dry needling, strapping, or padding can be provided by our Podiatrists to facilitate healing. Using our GaitScan Technology FAAC Podiatrists can easily determine if poor biomechanics and foot alignment is the underlying cause of the symptoms. In this case a simple shoe inserts or orthotic device as well as footwear advice/modifications will be considered to alleviate and prevent ongoing pain/limitations. Depending on the severity of the injury immediate immobilisation treatment may be required. At the Foot and Ankle Clinic we can provide multiple forms of offloading CAM-boots that are readily available.

The injuries mentioned earlier can be aggravated by simply choosing a football boot that is unsuitable or simply not fitted correctly. Boot choices initially should be based on your foot type, injury history and the type of surfaces played on (moulds/blades). Typical Irritations found with ill-fitting boots are corns, calluses and blistering. If additional support is required within the boot, a Podiatrist may assist with strapping, padding, prescribing orthotics (customised to over-the-counter) into football boot and running shoes.

At the Foot and Ankle Clinic our highly qualified team of Podiatrists are all members of the Australian Podiatry Association and offer a combined 50 years’ experience. They are trained to diagnose and effectively treat football injuries via a range of treatments.
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