One step closer to injury-free football?

Director, Griffith Centre of Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering (GCORE), Menzies Health Institute Queensland and CMIT Program Leader, Professor David Lloyd FISB

A sports training program that may reduce in-game injuries in grassroots AFL by30% is about to be launched in South East Queensland.

Developed by a national team of experts, including people from GriffithUniversity’s Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, the FootyFirst AFL programis based on the latest scientific evidence and involves warm-up, leg strengtheningand conditioning exercises and training to improve balance, landing and sidestepping.

All these play a vital role in preparing players for their season of sport, reducingthe risk of injury and maintaining optimum capability throughout the season.

A revamp of an earlier 2006 training program called PAFIX (Preventing AustralianFootball Injuries by Exercise), FootyFirst is designed to be even more effectiveand easier to adopt by community sports teams, says Professor David Lloyd.

“We developed the PAFIX training program to prevent some specific lower limbinjuries in grassroots AFL. Based on our experience with this we’re currentlytrialling FootyFirst, also in grassroots AFL, where it will be more focussed oninjuries of the hamstring, groin, knee and ankle.

Even better results from FootyFirst

“Over recent years, we have studied 1500 grassroots AFL players in Perth andcountry Victoria and have already observed a 30% reduction in in-game injuryrates using the PAFIX training program. We expect even better results fromFootyFirst,” said Professor Lloyd. “This is fantastic considering the fact thatinjuries sustained playing football can have a profound impact on individuals forthe rest of their lives.

“Our newest program has been a great success in Victoria and we now aim to rollit out in South East Queensland. We need to identify ways to ensure it isadopted, implemented properly and consistently in this region for players to reapmaximum benefit. We also plan to redesign it to ensure the training regime isrelevant to other sporting codes, such as Rugby League,” said Professor Lloyd.

Endorsed by the AFL Medical Officers Association, the FootyFirst resourcescomprise a comprehensive training manual, posters and a DVD detailing the fivelevels of training. It includes recommended equipment, step-by-step images,video footage, common faults and key points to ensure and avoid.

The research team from the University of Ballarat, Griffith University, MonashUniversity and the University of Western Australia is funded through the NationalHealth and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) via Partnership and ProjectGrants.