Why GAA Players Need to Get Injury Aware

5th, March 2015

Playing GAA at any level requires more commitment, training, mental strength and fitness than many other pastimes. Everyday promising sporting careers are ended because of an injury so it is important to get the best out of a sporting career and to avoid, or treat injuries in the most effective way.

Playing GAA at any level requires more commitment, training, mental strength and fitness than many other pastimes. Everyday promising sporting careers are ended because of an injury so it is important to get the best out of a sporting career and to avoid, or treat injuries in the most effective way.

Recent newspaper articles have highlighted the increase in GAA injuries through the age ranges. Hamstring injuries in GAA players rose 8% in 2014 according to Tyrone minor football physio, Marty Loughran. The Sports Institute of Northern Ireland revealed that between 2007 and 2013, hamstring injuries accounted for 18% of injuries, but in 2014 it suddenly rose to 26%. So what is the cause? The current thinking is that players are perhaps being over coached, pushing their bodies too hard and to physical breaking point. Rather than receiving quick and effective treatment so that they can make a full recovery and return to training, injuries are sometimes not getting the correct level of treatment and recovery time. 

The GAA players have a fantastic level of commitment, and this is shown in their mental strength, approaching training with enthusiasm and energy. But there is a responsibility on schools and clubs to make sure that this determination is tempered with serious consideration of the long term work life balance.

Cruciate ligament injuries are also on the up. This can be directly related to overtraining and the increase in body weight from putting on more muscle than the player’s frame is designed to take. Cruciate injuries have an immediate impact and can cause osteoarthritis in the long term, which can result in chronic pain.

Players, coaches and managers have to think about these things. The Ulster GAA is hugely committed to the health and welfare of their membership, from the physical right through to mental health, as demonstrated by their ‘Health is Wealth’ initiative, with all its associated programmes. They have recently announced a partnership with the 3fivetwo Group so that injuries can be addressed quickly by specialists, and so damage can be kept to a minimum, particularly long-term damage. Avoiding overtraining and making effective treatment of injury a priority are the best long term ways to ensure that a playing career isn’t ended early.  

Find out more about health benefits for GAA members.


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