Carlton has joined forces with a Melbourne University mechanical engineer who claims serious knee injuries can be prevented by strengthening ankle joints.
The Blues hope the partnership will enable them to better identify players who are most susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament injuries and, in turn, develop training programs to prevent them from occurring.
Hossein Mokhtarzadeh, a post-doctoral fellow at the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science, has conducted a series of tests on how to best prevent ACL injuries in athletes.
He said physiotherapists should pay extra attention to strengthening players' ankles in an effort to reduce the number of ACL injuries in the game.
"We are improving our mathematical models to predict and screen for athletes who are at a high risk of injury while they play," Mokhtarzadeh said.
"If we could prevent just half of the knee injuries in Australian football, we would save more than $60 million a year and a lot of pain."
ACL injuries typically occur as athletes turn sharply or land after jumping.
Mokhtarzadeh conducted a series of tests to measure the landing force of athletes and, eventually, the forces in each of the muscles during the landing motion.
He used this data to design a series of experiments on the limbs of pig carcasses to determine how to best prevent the injury.
"I found that if you fix the shin bone at the ankle so it doesn't rotate, you need to increase the level of force to cause injury to the ACL. So this protects the ACL," Mokhtarzadeh said.
Carlton sports physiotherapist Sam Rosengarten, who will work with Mokhtarzadeh on the project, said it was pleasing the research backed up his anecdotal evidence.
"We’ve certainly found that (lack of ankle strength) to be a contributing factor to lower limb injuries," he told AFL.com.au.
"This is one of the first times it's been demonstrated in a scientific forum which is exciting."
Carlton is one of the few AFL sides whose entire senior list has been spared a knee reconstruction in 2013.
"Some would call it luck, (but) we work very hard as a club to stay ahead of the rest in terms of injury prevention," Rosengarten said.