By Jonny Kelly,
Injuries in Gaelic sport are inevitable but some injuries can be prevented.
As the season progresses, the intensity and frequency of training and matches increases.
This can cause overload and fatigue on the body, eventually leading to injury.
In this article, we will share with you eight ways that will help prevent injuries during the season.
1. Manage Training Load
Training load describes the total volume and intensity that you undertake during training or competition.
There are two training loads to consider:
Acute load – refers to the training load that has been accumulated in the last week.
Chronic load – refers to the average training load that has been accumulated over the past four weeks.
Here are some tips to manage your training load:
Limit acute spikes in load.
Avoid overtraining or undertraining your body, you want to be training in the sweet spot.
Minimise week-to-week fluctuations in training load.
2. Keep Up With Strength Exercises
Maintaining strength will help you protect the health of your muscles, tendons and joints.
Players find it difficult to keep up with strength sessions during the season, alongside pitch training.
However, you can reduce the length of gym sessions by lowering repetitions to 3-5 and aiming for two gym sessions per week, per muscle group.
It is important to work on flexibility as well as strength.
After training and matches, our muscles and joints feel stiff and sore.
There are several ways to improve flexibility:
Using massage ball
Eating a balanced diet will provide your muscles and joints with the necessary nutrients to function properly.
When you are deficient in certain nutrients, your risk of injury becomes higher.
Our bodies require a sufficient number of carbohydrates to refuel, and protein to repair damaged muscles from strenuous activity.
We also need to stay hydrated and consume enough vitamins for our bodies to function optimally.
5. Don’t ignore niggles
Niggles are part and parcel of playing sport but they are telling your body that something is not right.
A study published in the Science and Medicine in Football Journal showed that players who reported a niggle were 3.6-6.9 times more likely to sustain an injury in the following seven days.
Of course this does not mean that you need to stop playing with a niggle, but that you should get niggles checked out before an injury occurs.
6. Warm-up and cool-downs
An effective warm-up will ensure your body is ready for action.
A good warm-up should consist of gradual running, up to sprinting speed and running in different directions.
Jumping and landing on one leg type exercises will prepare the joints of the leg to land correctly, thus avoiding knee and ankle ligament injuries.
The Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and Ulster GAA have an official warm-up guide called Activate Warm-Up and it has been proven to reduce injuries by up to 50 per cent.
This can be found on their website.
Sleeping less than 8 hours a night can lead to detrimental effects on your physical performance.
A study demonstrated a relationship between the amount of sleep athletes get and their risk of physical injuries.
Athletes who get less than eight hours sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to get injured.
8. Ice baths
Ice baths can be very helpful after an intense game or training.
They can reduce muscle soreness and make you feel fresher for the next session.
However, speak with your therapist about the optimal duration of ice baths since too much exposure can negatively affect your performance.
Staying injury free during the season
There are many aspects to reducing your risk of picking up an injury during the season.
However, they are all easy to implement and follow.
Not only will they reduce your risk of injury, they will also improve your performances.
Are you frustrated with injury?
Jonny Kelly is a chartered Sports Physiotherapist and owns Physio Performance in Belfast. He has helped get world-class athletes back on the pitch and performing at their best. Contact us for a complimentary Sports Injury Consultation at www.physioperformance.co.uk .