AFL injury toll at a high - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL injury toll at a high

By Sam Lienert 20/05/2009 04:16:37 PM Comments (0)

AFL players have missed more games through injury over the past two seasons than at any other time in the past decade.

While rule changes in recent years aimed at reducing head and neck injuries and certain types of knee injuries have been successful, other injuries are on the increase.

Hamstring strains caused more players to miss games last season than in any other year over the past decade, while the incidence of shoulder injuries has also jumped over the past three seasons.

The findings were contained in the AFL's annual injury survey, released on Wednesday.

League football operations manager Adrian Anderson suspected the increases in hamstring and shoulder injuries were both related to the rising pace of the game, with the AFL conducting research projects in both areas.

"The hamstring is the number one (problem) and soft tissue injuries," Anderson said.

"That's part of why we're looking closely at whether there's any link with the increase in use of the interchange in recent years and there's a project specifically to look at that."

On average, each club lost players for 25.8 games per season to hamstring injuries last year, by far the most of any injury type.

He said, along with the use of interchange, tackling rates had also jumped sharply in recent seasons, which could be behind the increase in shoulder injuries, the subject of a separate research project.

"What would be looked at in terms of shoulder injuries is the rate of tackling has pretty much doubled what it was in 2000 and 2001," Anderson said.

"(It will also look at) the technique being used in tackling and the speed of players when they hit each other and bump each other."

Anderson said it was too early to say whether rule changes would be implemented to combat either of those problem areas.

Another area being examined is the high rate of groin injuries among young players early in their AFL careers, which has been a notable factor over the past decade.

The amount of training conducted by elite teenage athletes before they are drafted into the AFL system is suspected as a factor, particularly those who also excel at another sport.

But Anderson said on the positive side, there was the lowest incidence of head and neck injuries on record last year.

The AFL believed that was a direct result of rule changes in recent years outlawing front-on bumps on players crouched over the ball and holding players responsible for bumps in which they made head contact.

Similarly, Anderson pointed to a reduction in posterior cruciate ligament injuries to ruckmen over recent years as vindication of AFL rule changes governing where ruckmen can stand at centre bounces.

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