Australian rules football is one of Australia’s most loved recreational sports but it also accounts for the highest number of sports related injuries that lead to hospitalisation.
The football season is upon us, but unfortunately for those of us who love running onto the oval, the risk of injury due to tackles, collisions, falls and being hit by the ball, is high.
To get the most out of this football season, we at Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre have put together some simple tips to help you avoid injury so you can spend more time on the field.
Prevention is the best cure
Start the season on the front foot. Maintaining a balanced fitness program in the off-season is the best way to start. Be sure to incorporate cardio, strength and flexibility into your training, while fuelling your body with a healthy diet. If you are out of shape after an indulgent summer, slowly increase your activity level to build up your cardio endurance. This way your body will be prepared to match your competitive spirit during the game.
A pre-season physical examination would help to identity your fitness level and, potentially, uncover any limiting conditions that you may need to watch.
Warming up prior to the game or training session is essential to avoid injury, especially on cold winter days. A slow jog for 5 minutes then a full body stretch with ankle and wrist rotations will help avoid strains; these weak spots account for a lot of the game’s injuries. If you are aware of issues here, wrist braces and ankle braces would be advised.
Staying hydrated maintains moisture to effectively cool your body through sweat but it also plays a massive role in your performance. Dehydration by only 2% of body weight will affect a player’s hand-eye coordination, reduce their endurance and motivation, all working toward increasing the risk of injury.
A good rule is to drink two glasses of water two hours before a game or training. Then another glass just before you begin. Then keep topping up every 20 minutes.
Alcohol should also be avoided 48 hours prior to games and immediately after.
Stretching after a game can often be neglected due to celebrations, defeat or busy schedules. Cooling down and stretching will keep your muscles loose and flexible. This will help with soreness and better prepare you to train multiple times a week. Be aware of knots building in specific areas over time. Using a squeeze ball in these trigger spots will help massage the problem areas and loosen the muscle.
Should injury occur, seek prompt attention from a trained professional. Make sure you do not return to the field until they have decided it is safe to do so. Keeping a cold pack will help to minimise swelling and help control pain prior to seeing a doctor or physiotherapist.
If you’re in need of some specialist care this football season, Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre offer check-ups and treatment for football injuries.