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The bigger the injury, the harder the ground..

Players over the pre season work hard on their fitness, particularly their strength and focus on weight training. The push to have readymade AFL players has seen the need for AFL clubs to fast track the physical development of young and old players alike. Clubs want bigger stronger bodies to withstand the rigors of todays game.

There is a byproduct to this player engineering…

More ACLs and lower leg injuries.

I’m no expert but if you rapidly build up your upper body with muscle over a short period of time, (let’s say pre-season) your previous mobility, body mechanics and new weight distribution would surely impact on other areas of the body to compensate and adjust. That new muscle that helps you stand up in a tackle, suddenly, becomes a liability, when you land awkwardly or twist like you used to do 1000 times before.

Last night I watched two ruckmen go down with knee injuries.

Nic Natanui has just come off achilles surgery. It is no secret that while he was in recovery he’d worked very hard on his upper body – what else can you do if you cannot kick, run or use your legs?

The injury, like many ACLs looked innocuous at the time. Could that additional upper body weight have contributed to the season ending injury?

Both Eric McKenzie and Mitch Brown in the first two games of 2015 did their ACLs – were they bulking up over the pre season? They certainly looked bigger at the time for sure.

In 2015, 1st year Eagles player Liam Duggan had obviously stacked on the rig. If he wanted to cut it against the big bodied mids of Hawks and Geelong, he would have had to get stronger and bigger.

Duggan too did his knee mid way through 2015 after a promising start.

Another product of the Eagle weight regime is Callum Sinclair, now with Sydney, but he too is having knee problems.

A year out of todays game can ruin a players career.

McKenzie admitted recently he felt the game had advanced significantly since being on the sidelines. The result is him only playing 2 games this year and is still being overlooked even when Barrass is not in the side.

Instead of trying to work out how best and how quickly we can repair an ACL knee injury, maybe we should be looking at the real causes behind them.

Evidence revealed in a 2013 AFL Injury Report stated that ‘ The rate of ACL injury in 2013 was again far higher in AFL pre-season and early rounds, compared to the winter months’

Could this be the result of bulking up before season proper?

Or is it the ground?

Domain Stadium, or Subiaco Oval, used to be the AFL Mecca for ACLs. The same AFL study referred to above, revealed that early season matches and games played in northern (warmer) venues had a higher risk of ACL injuries due to ground hardness. Rye grass apparently offers protection against ACL injury as opposed to Bermuda (couch) which has more ‘thatch’ in its structure which can trap the boots…

Despite the available evidence, I’d still like to see a study done on a possible correlation between a players’ rapid increase in upper body weight and subsequent ACL injuries…

Off the fence…





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