Over the next few weeks, county championships will be coming to a close, if they have not already. Over the next month we will also see the culmination of the various county leagues which will complete the club season for this year. This year’s Inter-county season also officially resumed this week (14th September) and with competitions set to start up again in October and finish in late December there will be players competing for honours into the deep winter months.
The rise of the Coronavirus “pandemic has caused the GAA authorities to condense the seasons of both club and county so as to complete them both within the same calendar year.
Usually during these harsh and unforgiving winter months, the majority of teams are resting up and enjoying some form of off season or down time.
They may even switch playing codes and line out for their local soccer teams in the various leagues all over the island of Ireland. The point being that in a normal season most of the Gaelic teams would be enjoying their winter period before returning to the usual preseason slogs of the next campaign come January.
It is also in these winter months that there is usually a rise in the amount of colds and flus circulating around the country, not to mention the constant threat of coronavirus and the consequences associated with it.
With the current season on the verge of entering the so called ‘flu season’ it will become more important for players, still competing in this season, to focus part of their efforts on the prevention and management of these sicknesses.
The most effective and proactive method in which to battle against these viruses is to boost your own immune system so as to allow you to lower your risk of infection.
With this in mind, players and coaches alike can boost their immune system by making a few simple lifestyle changes or even focusing more on certain parts of their lifestyle to ensure they are not lacking in this area. Here are eight areas you can focus on to help boost your immune system:
Ensuring that you get adequate rest is very important due to the fact that sleep and immunity are very closely linked. Adults should be aiming for at least seven hour of quality sleep, teens eight to ten hours and children up to 14 hours of sleep per night. There are studies that showing that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night are more susceptible to sickness. The important thing to remember about getting quality sleep is that it is a routine and the better your sleep routine then the better quality of sleep you will get.
It is true what they say, ‘You are what you eat!’ so to ensure that you maximise the boost you give to your immune system eat more whole foods, foods in their rawest form, fermented foods and good amount of healthy fats. Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and omega fatty acids all assist with reducing pathogens as well as lowering the built up of inflammation within the body. Eating fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto all help to increase your gut bacteria. Coupling this with a probiotic supplement to help both grow and feed your gut bacteria can give your immunity a great boost.
Of course, hydration does not actually protect you from germs and viruses but having proper hydration is important for overall bodily health. Most of, if not all, of your bodily functions will use hydration in some shape or form but especially the Lymphatic System. This system runs in tandem with your circulatory system and is kind of like the body’s sewage system. Whenever the body breaks down pathogens and viruses the materials that are left need to be transported to the relevant organs for processing. This material is passed to the lymphatic system to be processed and transported out of the body. Dehydration will also hinder your performance and reduce the levels of exertion you are able to function at during training and games, so it is vital for players who are 2-3 litres of water per day rising to 3-5 on a training or game day.
Managing your stress and anxiety levels is essential for optimal immune health. Allowing your body to be subjected to long-term stress/anxiety only aids to promote inflammation and creates imbalances in immune cell function. Prolonged psychological stress may also suppress the body’s immune response. Activities that you can use to reduce stress and anxiety can be mindfulness, meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, off-loading with family/friends. If you have any stress or anxieties that relate to the team you are playing for it would be advisable to speak to your management team. Trust me, I have had to do this in the past and it always relieved any stress I may have had.
It is very easy to turn to supplements to assist you with your fight against harmful pathogens. If you are going to use supplements, please ensure that you supplement wisely. Always ensure to speak to people who are qualified to give you proper advice (GP, Nutritionist etc.). From my own experience as someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease, I try to include more Vitamin C and D, Zinc, Magnesium into my diet but if I am flaring up, I would supplement to boost these levels. As well as these I also use Echinacea which has been shown to significantly reduce infection risk and length of infection of colds and flus. Lastly, I find it very important to increase my intake of garlic and onions during flu season. These are natures antibacterial and antiviral medicines by assisting and strengthening the body’s immune response when infection occurs.
With this unusual season being prolonged deep into the belly of winter it will be essential for players and coaches to make a concerted effort to boost their immunity. Not only for themselves but for the team as a whole. It will be important for teams to be responsible about colds/flus and to allow players to be absent from training and games guilt free whenever they are poorly. Players need to take responsibility for their own immunity remembering that prevention is always better than intervention because if you have to intervene it may already be too late. Your health is your wealth, be smart, be responsible and keep yourself ‘Fit To Play!’
Want more advice for goalkeepers? Contact Patrick now.
Well Done Paula
A very hearty congratulations my own club, Armagh Harps, Senior Ladies football team after capturing the senior county Armagh championship and ending a 22-year wait.
A great achievement for a group of girls who have put in a massive amount of effort over the past four to five years and who have been slowly building toward this achievement.
Congratulations to manager Paddy McShane and his backroom team for the terrific job they have done over the past number of years and finally bringing home the Marie Hoy Cup back to Abbey Park.
I want to extend a special congratulations to goalkeeper senior Paula Enright and her coach John ‘Dingle’ Daly.
Paula is a seasoned campaigner for the senior ladies playing most of her career at midfield before taking up the position between the posts for the last few years.
I had the pleasure of coaching her during last season’s campaign in which she won a club All-Star Award at goalkeeper.
This year she has won a county title and to top off this wonderful achievement she was Lady of the Match in the county final. There is no better way to mark her exceptional playing career. Plenty of years left in Paula yet!
This year Paula has been coached by my Harps goalkeeping teammate and friend John ‘Dingle’ Daly. A man who has a very similar goalkeeping philosophy to me and he is someone who knows the game very well.
A very experienced player and coach Dingle has coached Paula to her Lady of the Match award in this year’s county final. An accolade I am sure he is just as proud of as much as Paula and one he has put a massive effort into the team’s goalkeepers to ensure their game improves to the levels required.
Congratulations to all involved and best of luck in their Ulster Ladies Club championship match against St Paul’s (Antrim). The game is to be played this Sunday at 3.30pm in Abbey Park and will immediately follow the senior men’s league match against Ballymacnab. A great double header for the club so come down and support both teams especially your newly crowned County Champions. Na Clairsigh Abu!!