Two semi-elite Victorian Football League (VFL) clubs participated in the research, which is the first Australian study to examine the role of chiropractic treatment in minimising injury in footballers.
The study was undertaken by sports chiropractor Wayne Hoskins as the basis for his PhD project on hamstring injuries and has just been published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
“Hamstring and lower limb muscle strains are the most common injuries in the AFL,” Hoskins said. “The AFL’s injury survey shows no change in injury rates in the last 15 years and management of these injuries has remained a source of frustration for players, clubs, medical staff and fans alike.”
Hoskins’ research showed that hamstring and lower limb muscle strain injuries can be dramatically reduced through the inclusion of a sports chiropractor in the traditional injury management programs adopted by clubs, which generally involve a mix of physiotherapy, massage, and strength and conditioning management.
Hoskins said the results suggest that the inclusion of chiropractic treatment would boost player performance whilst saving clubs money.
“The study lasted an entire season and involved 59 players from two VFL clubs,” Hoskins said. “The group which included chiropractic management had a four per cent chance of a hamstring injury and a four per cent chance of a lower limb muscle strain. The group which received the traditional management only had a 17 per cent chance of hamstring injury and a 28 per cent chance of a lower limb muscle strain.”
In addition, the chiropractic group missed just four matches during the season through hamstring or lower limb muscle strains. The group not receiving chiropractic treatment missed 14 matches through hamstring injury and 21 matches through lower limb muscle strain.
The group receiving chiropractic treatment also had significant reductions in non-contact knee injuries, low back pain, and improvements in physical components of health, although this was not the goal of treatment.
The study was carried out under the supervision of Associate Professor Henry Pollard from Macquarie University’s Department of Chiropractic.
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