The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is calling for clubs and players to be aware of the increased risk of sports injuries after the long COVID-19 lay off and as Victorians return to a form of normality.

While many Victorians have been walking, running and cycling to maintain their fitness during quarantine, physiotherapists are warning this doesn’t mean they’re ready to go straight back into local footy, netball or cricket.

Physiotherapist and APA Sports and Exercise group Victorian Chair Darren Austin said a carefully planned return to competitive sport will help avoid common sports injuries to hamstrings, knees, ankles and hips/groins.

“Maintaining general fitness from running and walking is great while competitive sport hasn’t been possible, but we need to remind all teams and players that they need to return to sport gradually, as restrictions ease and competition begins again,” Mr Austin said.

Mr Austin said that a combination of targeted strength and balance exercises will assist in reducing the likelihood of hamstring, knee, ankle and hip or groin injuries occurring.

“Research shows young women are at three to five times greater risk of ACL injury than men although, as men tend to play sports with higher ACL injury risk, overall incidence of ACL injury is higher in men¹,” Mr Austin said.

Mr Austin has called for sports clubs and individuals to consult their local physio to help put together a graded return to sport training plan, or to work with coaches to implement adequate injury prevention training.

“We’ve been away from the sports field, court or pitch for a long time, and I’m sure everyone is itching to get back out there with their teammates. We need to be aware that we can’t just jump straight back into high speed running, agility and contact activities and expect we’ll be fine.

“A physio can tailor a program of warm up exercises for your players, which are designed to reduce injury risk by progressively building training load. The program may include a combination of targeted strength and balance exercises, landing techniques, ankle sprain reduction exercises, quad, knee and calf strengthening exercises to support the safe return to these popular sports. 

“With a gradual approach and proper training, we can avoid injuries that will wipe us out for the rest of the season and potentially into the New Year.

“We encourage coaches and clubs to make this type of training part of their standard training, and keep their players fresh and ready to go for the year,” Mr Austin said.



¹ Australian Orthopedic Association, 2018, Submission to the consultation to develop a National Sports Plan

Darren Austin is available for further comment.


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