Growing up playing Gaelic Football, one guarantee is the common sight of players pulling up mid-sprint and falling to the floor. Similarly, the queue of players standing on the sideline during training. So, what can be done to help prevent these lower extremity injuries. Well, as part of my MSc, I am involved with a research group looking at how the hamstrings adapt to various training intervention strategies. This is important, as hamstring injuries are highly prevalent problem amongst many field sports, notably Soccer (Petersen et al. 2011) and AFL (Opar et al. 2014). Similarly, in Gaelic football, hamstring injuries were reported in a 4-year perspective study to be the most common muscular injury, accounting for 24% of all reported injuries and over 50% of muscle injuries (Murphy et al. 2012).
Figure 1. Nordic Hamstring exercise being carried out by one person holding the ankles, as the other person slowly lowers their body to the ground.
One common type of hamstring training that S&C professionals utilise is the Nordic Hamstring exercise. It is very simplistic in its design and can be simply carried out by two people (Figure 1.). This can be included as a supplementary exercise to most S&C programs, and has been shown to be beneficial when performed twice weekly, with repetition ranges varied between 1-13 reps per set (Van der Horst et al. 2015). This can be easily progressed as capability improves by adding more sets, or there are some variations of the movement out there. However, I would suggest becoming proficient at the classical movement before progressing.
Having just completed the final lung busting sprint of training on a random Thursday night. The steam is rising of you and your fellow teammates as you enter the dressing room. Each player plants themselves on the hard-wooden bench. A common sight in many GAA club changing rooms across Ireland, that many will relate too. However, recently, most clubs have had the one person in the team who draws what looks like a cream whipper from the side pocket of their bag. “What’s that lad?”, one person will invariably say, to which the response will be “ah, this, it’s a protein shake lad, it’s for recovery”. Before long, the concept had spread amongst the crowd and ques have formed outside the local health shop.
The idea of using supplements has spread to most facets of Sport, be that elite or amateur levels. It has been reported that 75-85% of athletes consume at least one supplement, with 21% reported to be consuming at least 6 supplements (Maughan et al., 2007). Estimates place the value of the supplement industry in the United States at approximately $35 billion, with it expected to grow exponentially in the coming years (Kuszak et al., 2015). Especially given the level of exposure, these supplement companies get through social media and celebrity endorsements.