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AFL football demands an equal balance of strength, stability, mobility, explosiveness and endurance.

Unfortunately, when breakdowns in this balance occur, the amount of injuries will increase. With such high demands placed upon local athletes, these higher demands result in more injuries occurring.

The use of screening protocols for the competitive football player is an important component of the pre-season.  This allows for an athlete to be examined by a physiotherapist and to identify suspected risk factors for potential injury.

There are a many different screening protocols which are used, and these need to be specific to the sport/activity. A common protocol is called the ‘Functional Movement System’ which is a ranking or grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the physiotherapist can readily identify functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning, and distort body awareness.

A score is generated, which is then used to target problems and track progress. These results then guide the physiotherapist to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns, and build strength in each individual.

An individualized rehabilitation program will be targeted to the athlete’s limitations, which is aimed at reducing injury rates for the season. This is achieved through:

  • Evaluation: the screening protocol identifies asymmetries and limitations.
  • Standardization: the FMS creates a functional baseline to make the progress and provides a means to measure performance.
  • Safety: dangerous movement patterns are identified so they can be addressed. It also indicates an athlete’s readiness to perform exercise so that realistic goals can be set and achieved.
  • Corrective Strategies: It identifies specific exercises that will be the most effective to restore proper movement and develop strength and control.

To ensure that you are able to perform injury free and at your full physical potential, see your physiotherapist for a Pre-Season Screening.

Dan James is a physiotherapist at Corio Bay Sports Medicine Centre and the Geelong Football Club.

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