It’s easy to get carried away in football. It is a game that we love. The sense of anticipation right before the bounce of the ball at the beginning of a game. The tense feeling when the clock ticks up to 25 or 26 minutes and your team are up by a point. The roar in the outer when someone takes a screamer in the goal square.

Whether you barrack for a club with a long and steep history, or one of the clubs started in the last couple of decades, you carry a passion for the club. We bleed the colours of the jumper that we admire.

That’s why we will sit on a plastic chair on a wet, windy freezing night at the MCG just to share our passion with fellow supporters. To ride every bump, groan at every turnover, cheer with every mark, jump with every goal and scream at every poor decision.

The atmosphere gives us so much. Tens of thousands of fans walking to the colosseum to cheer on their gladiators. The noise outside the ground, everyone previewing what they are about to witness.

Then there are the players.

The ones that can do things that make you smile. That make you sit back in your chair and say wow. The players that leave you thinking, “Gee, I wish he played for us”.

Every team has players that you pay to go and watch, or sit down and watch a game on telly just to see them do what they do best.

The tough, like when Patrick Dangerfield smashes a pack. The courageous, like when Nick Riewoldt runs with the flight of the ball and marks running straight into a pack. The breathtaking, like Alan Didak with his one handed pick up at full pace.

These players, some are genuine superstars of the game; some are young emerging players and half the thrill of watching them is seeing them develop. But what happens when these superstars get injured? We all know how massively a season can change when our star player can no longer go into battle or us.

That’s where we come into it.

Hamstring injuries are the most prevalent injury in Australian Rules football (1). Per season in the AFL hamstring injuries afflict 16% of players, cause 3.4 missed matches per injury, account for the most time missed due to injury and have the highest rates of injury recurrence, with one in three injuries recurring on return to play (1). On return to play, player performance is significantly lower (2). Hamstring injuries are also the most common muscle injury in running based sports (3). Knowledge surrounding optimal preventative measures is therefore critical.

The nature of AFL also leads to a greater potential to be tackled or bumped from any angle, meaning that the risk of a knee being twisted or caught on a dangerous angle is high. Injuries to the knee, ankle and shoulder joints are common. Knee reconstructions (especially ACL) are among the season or career threatening injuries.

In a recent randomised clinical trial, it was demonstrated that chiropractic, in conjunction with the current best practice medical, paramedical and sports science management, was beneficial for the prevention of lower limb muscle strain injuries, as well as reducing the amount of weeks missed due to primary non-contact knee injuries. Also noted was the reduction of low back pain, as well as the improvement in other physical components of health status. In addition to the trend towards prevention of hamstring and primary non-contact knee injuries, there were no reported adverse outcomes from the intervention. Based on the findings of this study it was concluded that chiropractic care should be included in the management of elite athletes (4)

This is why some of the world’s most successful athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, and Arnold Schwarzenegger had chiropractors on their team. It is also why at any one time you will see your favourite AFL player, Olympic athlete and even the odd movie star at your local chiropractic clinic for their next adjustment.

It is so they can keep doing, to the best of their ability, the very thing that inspires each and every one of us.


  1. Orchard J, Seward H. Epidemiology of injuries in the Australian Football League, seasons 1997-2000. Br J Sports Med 2002, 36(1):39-44
  2. Verrall GM, Kalairajah Y, Slavotinek JP, Spriggins AJ. Assessment of player performance following return to sport after hamstring muscle strain injury. J Sci Med Sport 2006, 9(1-2):87-90.
  3. Hoskins W, Pollard H. The management of hamstring injury–Part 1: Issues in diagnosis. Man Ther 2005, 10(2):96-107.
  4. Hoskins W, Pollard H. The effect of a sports chiropractic manual therapy intervention on the prevention of back pain, hamstring and lower limb injuries in semi-elite Australian Rules footballers: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010, 11:64

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