Injury Prevention & Recovery Guide for The GAA Championship: Part 2 – Treatment & Recovery
September 1, 2018 (No Comments) by Aidan Raftery

Well here we are, it’s not the third Sunday in September but it still has all the feel of an All Ireland weekend. Preparations have been made, lines drawn, pitches put in pristine condition, team talks given and players ready to burst on sheer anticipation alone.

injury-prevention-recovery-guide-for-the-gaa-cup

The first year of the Super 8s have come under scrutiny from many, but there is still a sense that a change was well overdue. For a competition that’s 130 year’s old, an overhaul to the system was always going to take a few hits in the firing line. The GAA, is and always will be a beautiful thing though, how one cup drives communities, clubs and counties alike.

The Lucky & The Onlookers

For 30 lucky men tomorrow, it will be the culmination of a long hard season, with a new controversial format. For many involved with the Tyrone and Dublin football camps, there will be a host of disappointed onlookers who suffered injury throughout the season. They will have to find solace in the sideline and the roar of 80,000 fans in Croke Park.

tyrone-v-dublin-2018

Much like many players around the country who worked equally hard, their seasons may have been cut short due to a big hit or long standing injury. Back in July, we took a look at the importance of player preparation with part 1 of our GAA injury and recovery guide.

There we focused on the demands of players, the pillars of good preparation, the GAA calendar and the impact of fatigue. Today, we’re looking at specific injuries relating to all GAA codes, the treatment based on physio pitch experience and how to properly recover.

Shockingly Real

Hurling and camogie are often regarded as the most dangerous sports in the GAA. Once I heard a friend of mine from America call it stick wars and I’m sure we’ve all heard a few interesting names over the years! Let’s not forget about the shock and delight from British fans when Sky Sports got the rights to provide coverage.

Sliotar Speed

Hurling carries its own dangers due to the movement of the ball or sliotar. It is of course small, about the size of a tennis ball for anyone unfamiliar. The centre of the ball is made up of cork and is wrapped in leather, quite the concoction. When struck, it travels very fast at 100mph if not more.

hurling-and-camogie-injuries

If it connects with an unprotected head, it can knock a player out and lead to concussion. Depending on the impact, it may lead to more severe head and brain injuries.

Common Hurling Injuries

Injuries can and do regularly happen by getting hit by a hurley stick. The most severe again would be a result of getting hit by the hurley in the head. From the start, when clubs were set up in the late 1800s, getting hit on the head with a hurley was considered an occupational hazard. Players did play on without realising the consequences of receiving such a hit to the head.

common-hurling-injuries

Shin, wrist, arm and hand injuries are all part of the game and time out for these injuries can vary depending on the injury. Broken fingers and knuckle injuries are usually the order of the day. In hurling, there is no black card for high or dangerous challenges.

In concussion in hurling up until recent years, the wearing of helmets was optional. But after the GAA did research into concussion in sport, they have made it compulsory to wear helmets. This is the case at all levels from underage right up to senior at club and county level. The research has also shown through statistics, that concussion and head injuries in hurling have been greatly reduced in the game.

Gaelic Football and Ladies Football

There is a common misconception that these sports don’t deliver as many injuries than hurling. Gaelic football and Ladies Gaelic football are no less physical nor is there less a likelihood of injuries happening. In Gaelic football, there is a yellow, red and black card.

gaelic-football-and-ladies-football

We all know the story with the yellow and red card. Yellow is for a first offence as seen fit by the referee. If a player gets a 2nd yellow for a 2nd offence, then then the player gets a red card. Or, depending on how severe a players first offence is, it could be a straight red. The black card is supposed to be for a high challenge around the neck. The result is that the player goes off but can be replaced.

Black Card Interpretation

The black card is not really an appropriate punishment to the player or the team, for what is a very dangerous tackle. You could get 5 referees and even though the rule is very clear, the 5 referees would interpret it differently. The best solution would be to do away with the black card. Then if a player gets a yellow card for that sort of a challenge, the player is sin binned for 10 mins.

referee-interpretation

This would not cut out the number of high tackles but could curtail the frequency in a game. If players knew they would be gone off for 10 minutes and a replacement could not be brought on, there would be a greater impact. The offending player could end up costing his team the game.

Common Football Injuries

We’re going to take a look at some of the most common injuries in Gaelic Football and Ladies Football. These can of course also crop up in hurling due to the similarities between the sports.

Upper Body

  • Concussion, head and neck injuries.
  • Broken clavicle and injury to the humerus bone.
  • Hand knuckle injuries, common in hurling and camogie.
  • Shoulder injuries including dislocated shoulder and deltoid muscle injuries.

Lower Body

patellar-tendonitis

  • Patellar Tendonitis (pictured above).
  • Anterior cruciate ligament injury.
  • Broken tibia and fibula.
  • Broken ankle and Grade 1, 2, or 3 ankle sprains

Concussion in The GAA

Concussion can get worse if untreated, that’s why early detection is absolutely key. Concussion is a common enough injury in Gaelic Games. It’s only in recent times that we have become fully aware of the effects of concussion in sport.

injury-prevention-recovery-guide-for-the-gaa-championship-part-1-player-preparation

As a result, physios are doing more to educate themselves on spotting it and then treating it. There are a number of checks that doctors, physios and sport therapists must complete:

  1. Ask the player their name and confirm if they know where they are;
  2. Ask what the score is and see if they know what day of the week it is;
  3. Check for blurred or double vision. Test this by asking how many fingers you are holding up;
  4. Put your index finger in front of their eyes and ask the player to get their eyes to follow you’re your finger. Bring your finger up and down, left and right far away from them and near to them;
  5. Get them to stand up if they are able and ask them to stand on 1 leg. Ask them to stand on their left leg then on their right leg;
  6. Ask them to walk a straight line.

These are some of the checks a medic, physio or sports physio will do to check for concussion. If 1o or more of the answers or the tests are wrong then the chances are it is concussion or the early stages of a more severe head injury. Senior Cork hurler Robbie O’Flynn suffered a serious head injury in Corks’ Munster Hurling Championship clash with Clare. He lost consciousness briefly and was taken off as a precaution.

robbie-oflynn-cork

Robbie was taken to hospital for further checks which is in line with best practices in these situations. He had taken a bang of a hurley to the head and was diagnosed with concussion. If this is the case, then it is essential the player is brought to hospital for further tests and treatment. It’s recommended that all players in GAA go through return to play procedure as discussed in our article on injury prevention in rugby.

Injury Prevention in the GAA Championship

It is not possible to prevent all injuries in sports, especially in Gaelic football and hurling. The Championship is a very important part of every inter-county footballers, hurlers, camogie players and ladies footballers season. Preparation is about getting the balance right between training with rest, sleep and the correct eating between matches.

injury-prevention-in-the-gaa-championship

No player wants to miss any stage of the championship, so, in all creeds it’s important to get the balance right. There are some key things that can be done to help lower the chances of injury at such a key part of the season.

Training & Concentration

Train well but don’t over train, a vital recommendation for recovery from training and matches. This is key for concentration, the night before training and games. If you are tired the day of a game, your concentration won’t be at the required levels for training or a game. Avoid over training as this will lead to fatigue leading to you being vulnerable to injury.

Warming Up

A good warm up before a game or training as well as a warm down before and after training is good for the muscles and circulation. Stretches are essential before a game and training. This gets the joints, ligaments and tendons more ready for the rigors of a game or training.

county-down-ladies-gaa

Injury Prevention Sportswear

Strapping and supports as required are good for the heavy impact tackles that players endure during games. In hurling and camogie, it is essential and law to wear a helmet with a visor for matches and training games. It is proven that the wearing of helmets reduce the chance of injury.

The wearing of shin pads is advisable, it protects the tibia and fibula as it protects from impacts of hurling and camogie. It would be advisable to wear during Gaelic football and Ladies Gaelic football too. However, they are not mandatory the way that helmets are compulsory in hurling and camogie.

Hydration and Nutrition

Drink plenty of water before during and after training and matches. This helps the body and also focus and concentration. A balanced diet is essential this helps in a wide range of areas. These include recovery from injury, but the right types of food eaten at the right time are key to maintain energy.

A good diet is key to good performance and energy levels. Again, we’d recommend taking a look at this video which is a great insight for young GAA players on the nutritional and conditioning requirements to enhance performance.

Sports massage is good for the muscles and needs to be done before the game. It ensures better muscle movement and is also a key part to ensuring a good performance. Good strength and conditioning training can be the difference makers during games.

High Profile GAA Injuries

There have been a huge amount of high profile injuries over the last two years. We’re going to look at some specific areas and what the issue was. An extremely serious knee injury was sustained this year by Mayos’ Tom Parsons that sees him miss the rest of the season. Tom had to have 2 stages of surgery on the knee.

Mayo had more misfortune when footballer Lee Keegan required surgical procedures on both hips and Brendan Harrison also suffered from a hip related injury. Dublin senior footballer Bernard Brogan is also just back training after recovering from a tricky cruciate injury.

cork-ashling-thompson

In camogie, Corks’ Ashling Thompson also has suffered cruciate ligament injuries in the past. For players with recurring ACL injuries, Ashling recommends utilising full body workouts with a focus on both legs. When recovering from ACL inuries, a lot of players concentrate on building muscles in one and neglect the other.

In an extremely tragic incident, young Kerry player Aodhan O’Connor passed away due to a serious injury sustained during a game. Aodhan was part part of a collision and received head injuries after players went for the ball in under-15 Russell Cup match against St Brendan’s College. This was an ever present reminder of the dangers taken on by players in sport at all ages.

Not All Roads Lead to Sam

We’ve looked at the speed of a sliotar, hard hitting concussion and the most common injuries that we witness week in week out. It has never been more clear that there is a constant need for correct injury treatment and recovery. After such a such a spellbinding summer of hurling and the culmination of the football, it can be easy to forget about the big injuries and get lost in the hype of a big final.

not-all-roads-lead-to-sam

The impact of one big injury for a player can however have a ripple effect on both club and county. One thing is for sure, Dublin and Tyrone will give us everything and more when they throw in at GAA headquarters tomorrow. But they will also be aware that the preparations for a big occasion are no different than a pre-season session on a dark November evening or at a league opener in January.

The important thing to remember, is that the Championship doesn’t end tomorrow. Players need to be fully committed to treating all injuries to enjoy a long and healthy GAA career.

About the Author – Aidan Raftery

Aidan Raftery is the 1st Team Sports Therapist for the Ireland senior 6 a-side football squad. Aidan has years of experience and has worked with GAA, Hurling, Soccer and Rugby clubs in both Ireland and the UK. As a Sports Injuries Therapist and Massage Therapist, Aidan is a member of the Irish massage and Bodyworks Association and can be booked for appointments at his private practice in Roscommon.

aidan-raftery-the-sharpe-august-2018

Check out the AR Sports Therapy Clinic business page to see a full list of opening times and learn about the packages available to suit a variety of clubs. Be it multiple bookings, once off matches or training sessions, Aidan can provide professional support in the long term or short term for both club and player.

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Injury Prevention & Recovery Guide for The GAA Championship: Part 2 – Treatment & Recovery
September 1, 2018 (No Comments) by Aidan Raftery

Well here we are, it’s not the third Sunday in September but it still has all the feel of an All Ireland weekend. Preparations have been made, lines drawn, pitches put in pristine condition, team talks given and players ready to burst on sheer anticipation alone.

injury-prevention-recovery-guide-for-the-gaa-cup

The first year of the Super 8s have come under scrutiny from many, but there is still a sense that a change was well overdue. For a competition that’s 130 year’s old, an overhaul to the system was always going to take a few hits in the firing line. The GAA, is and always will be a beautiful thing though, how one cup drives communities, clubs and counties alike.

The Lucky & The Onlookers

For 30 lucky men tomorrow, it will be the culmination of a long hard season, with a new controversial format. For many involved with the Tyrone and Dublin football camps, there will be a host of disappointed onlookers who suffered injury throughout the season. They will have to find solace in the sideline and the roar of 80,000 fans in Croke Park.

tyrone-v-dublin-2018

Much like many players around the country who worked equally hard, their seasons may have been cut short due to a big hit or long standing injury. Back in July, we took a look at the importance of player preparation with part 1 of our GAA injury and recovery guide.

There we focused on the demands of players, the pillars of good preparation, the GAA calendar and the impact of fatigue. Today, we’re looking at specific injuries relating to all GAA codes, the treatment based on physio pitch experience and how to properly recover.

Shockingly Real

Hurling and camogie are often regarded as the most dangerous sports in the GAA. Once I heard a friend of mine from America call it stick wars and I’m sure we’ve all heard a few interesting names over the years! Let’s not forget about the shock and delight from British fans when Sky Sports got the rights to provide coverage.

Sliotar Speed

Hurling carries its own dangers due to the movement of the ball or sliotar. It is of course small, about the size of a tennis ball for anyone unfamiliar. The centre of the ball is made up of cork and is wrapped in leather, quite the concoction. When struck, it travels very fast at 100mph if not more.

hurling-and-camogie-injuries

If it connects with an unprotected head, it can knock a player out and lead to concussion. Depending on the impact, it may lead to more severe head and brain injuries.

Common Hurling Injuries

Injuries can and do regularly happen by getting hit by a hurley stick. The most severe again would be a result of getting hit by the hurley in the head. From the start, when clubs were set up in the late 1800s, getting hit on the head with a hurley was considered an occupational hazard. Players did play on without realising the consequences of receiving such a hit to the head.

common-hurling-injuries

Shin, wrist, arm and hand injuries are all part of the game and time out for these injuries can vary depending on the injury. Broken fingers and knuckle injuries are usually the order of the day. In hurling, there is no black card for high or dangerous challenges.

In concussion in hurling up until recent years, the wearing of helmets was optional. But after the GAA did research into concussion in sport, they have made it compulsory to wear helmets. This is the case at all levels from underage right up to senior at club and county level. The research has also shown through statistics, that concussion and head injuries in hurling have been greatly reduced in the game.

Gaelic Football and Ladies Football

There is a common misconception that these sports don’t deliver as many injuries than hurling. Gaelic football and Ladies Gaelic football are no less physical nor is there less a likelihood of injuries happening. In Gaelic football, there is a yellow, red and black card.

gaelic-football-and-ladies-football

We all know the story with the yellow and red card. Yellow is for a first offence as seen fit by the referee. If a player gets a 2nd yellow for a 2nd offence, then then the player gets a red card. Or, depending on how severe a players first offence is, it could be a straight red. The black card is supposed to be for a high challenge around the neck. The result is that the player goes off but can be replaced.

Black Card Interpretation

The black card is not really an appropriate punishment to the player or the team, for what is a very dangerous tackle. You could get 5 referees and even though the rule is very clear, the 5 referees would interpret it differently. The best solution would be to do away with the black card. Then if a player gets a yellow card for that sort of a challenge, the player is sin binned for 10 mins.

referee-interpretation

This would not cut out the number of high tackles but could curtail the frequency in a game. If players knew they would be gone off for 10 minutes and a replacement could not be brought on, there would be a greater impact. The offending player could end up costing his team the game.

Common Football Injuries

We’re going to take a look at some of the most common injuries in Gaelic Football and Ladies Football. These can of course also crop up in hurling due to the similarities between the sports.

Upper Body

  • Concussion, head and neck injuries.
  • Broken clavicle and injury to the humerus bone.
  • Hand knuckle injuries, common in hurling and camogie.
  • Shoulder injuries including dislocated shoulder and deltoid muscle injuries.

Lower Body

patellar-tendonitis

  • Patellar Tendonitis (pictured above).
  • Anterior cruciate ligament injury.
  • Broken tibia and fibula.
  • Broken ankle and Grade 1, 2, or 3 ankle sprains

Concussion in The GAA

Concussion can get worse if untreated, that’s why early detection is absolutely key. Concussion is a common enough injury in Gaelic Games. It’s only in recent times that we have become fully aware of the effects of concussion in sport.

injury-prevention-recovery-guide-for-the-gaa-championship-part-1-player-preparation

As a result, physios are doing more to educate themselves on spotting it and then treating it. There are a number of checks that doctors, physios and sport therapists must complete:

  1. Ask the player their name and confirm if they know where they are;
  2. Ask what the score is and see if they know what day of the week it is;
  3. Check for blurred or double vision. Test this by asking how many fingers you are holding up;
  4. Put your index finger in front of their eyes and ask the player to get their eyes to follow you’re your finger. Bring your finger up and down, left and right far away from them and near to them;
  5. Get them to stand up if they are able and ask them to stand on 1 leg. Ask them to stand on their left leg then on their right leg;
  6. Ask them to walk a straight line.

These are some of the checks a medic, physio or sports physio will do to check for concussion. If 1o or more of the answers or the tests are wrong then the chances are it is concussion or the early stages of a more severe head injury. Senior Cork hurler Robbie O’Flynn suffered a serious head injury in Corks’ Munster Hurling Championship clash with Clare. He lost consciousness briefly and was taken off as a precaution.

robbie-oflynn-cork

Robbie was taken to hospital for further checks which is in line with best practices in these situations. He had taken a bang of a hurley to the head and was diagnosed with concussion. If this is the case, then it is essential the player is brought to hospital for further tests and treatment. It’s recommended that all players in GAA go through return to play procedure as discussed in our article on injury prevention in rugby.

Injury Prevention in the GAA Championship

It is not possible to prevent all injuries in sports, especially in Gaelic football and hurling. The Championship is a very important part of every inter-county footballers, hurlers, camogie players and ladies footballers season. Preparation is about getting the balance right between training with rest, sleep and the correct eating between matches.

injury-prevention-in-the-gaa-championship

No player wants to miss any stage of the championship, so, in all creeds it’s important to get the balance right. There are some key things that can be done to help lower the chances of injury at such a key part of the season.

Training & Concentration

Train well but don’t over train, a vital recommendation for recovery from training and matches. This is key for concentration, the night before training and games. If you are tired the day of a game, your concentration won’t be at the required levels for training or a game. Avoid over training as this will lead to fatigue leading to you being vulnerable to injury.

Warming Up

A good warm up before a game or training as well as a warm down before and after training is good for the muscles and circulation. Stretches are essential before a game and training. This gets the joints, ligaments and tendons more ready for the rigors of a game or training.

county-down-ladies-gaa

Injury Prevention Sportswear

Strapping and supports as required are good for the heavy impact tackles that players endure during games. In hurling and camogie, it is essential and law to wear a helmet with a visor for matches and training games. It is proven that the wearing of helmets reduce the chance of injury.

The wearing of shin pads is advisable, it protects the tibia and fibula as it protects from impacts of hurling and camogie. It would be advisable to wear during Gaelic football and Ladies Gaelic football too. However, they are not mandatory the way that helmets are compulsory in hurling and camogie.

Hydration and Nutrition

Drink plenty of water before during and after training and matches. This helps the body and also focus and concentration. A balanced diet is essential this helps in a wide range of areas. These include recovery from injury, but the right types of food eaten at the right time are key to maintain energy.

A good diet is key to good performance and energy levels. Again, we’d recommend taking a look at this video which is a great insight for young GAA players on the nutritional and conditioning requirements to enhance performance.

Sports massage is good for the muscles and needs to be done before the game. It ensures better muscle movement and is also a key part to ensuring a good performance. Good strength and conditioning training can be the difference makers during games.

High Profile GAA Injuries

There have been a huge amount of high profile injuries over the last two years. We’re going to look at some specific areas and what the issue was. An extremely serious knee injury was sustained this year by Mayos’ Tom Parsons that sees him miss the rest of the season. Tom had to have 2 stages of surgery on the knee.

Mayo had more misfortune when footballer Lee Keegan required surgical procedures on both hips and Brendan Harrison also suffered from a hip related injury. Dublin senior footballer Bernard Brogan is also just back training after recovering from a tricky cruciate injury.

cork-ashling-thompson

In camogie, Corks’ Ashling Thompson also has suffered cruciate ligament injuries in the past. For players with recurring ACL injuries, Ashling recommends utilising full body workouts with a focus on both legs. When recovering from ACL inuries, a lot of players concentrate on building muscles in one and neglect the other.

In an extremely tragic incident, young Kerry player Aodhan O’Connor passed away due to a serious injury sustained during a game. Aodhan was part part of a collision and received head injuries after players went for the ball in under-15 Russell Cup match against St Brendan’s College. This was an ever present reminder of the dangers taken on by players in sport at all ages.

Not All Roads Lead to Sam

We’ve looked at the speed of a sliotar, hard hitting concussion and the most common injuries that we witness week in week out. It has never been more clear that there is a constant need for correct injury treatment and recovery. After such a such a spellbinding summer of hurling and the culmination of the football, it can be easy to forget about the big injuries and get lost in the hype of a big final.

not-all-roads-lead-to-sam

The impact of one big injury for a player can however have a ripple effect on both club and county. One thing is for sure, Dublin and Tyrone will give us everything and more when they throw in at GAA headquarters tomorrow. But they will also be aware that the preparations for a big occasion are no different than a pre-season session on a dark November evening or at a league opener in January.

The important thing to remember, is that the Championship doesn’t end tomorrow. Players need to be fully committed to treating all injuries to enjoy a long and healthy GAA career.

About the Author – Aidan Raftery

Aidan Raftery is the 1st Team Sports Therapist for the Ireland senior 6 a-side football squad. Aidan has years of experience and has worked with GAA, Hurling, Soccer and Rugby clubs in both Ireland and the UK. As a Sports Injuries Therapist and Massage Therapist, Aidan is a member of the Irish massage and Bodyworks Association and can be booked for appointments at his private practice in Roscommon.

aidan-raftery-the-sharpe-august-2018

Check out the AR Sports Therapy Clinic business page to see a full list of opening times and learn about the packages available to suit a variety of clubs. Be it multiple bookings, once off matches or training sessions, Aidan can provide professional support in the long term or short term for both club and player.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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