With pre-season well underway in GAA clubs across the country it’s important to consider the importance of a good conditioning and stretching program as part of your pre-season preparation. The pre-season slog, and the dark winter nights should not only be looked on as an opportunity to gain the required physical fitness to perform when the summer months roll around but should be utilised to lay the foundations for a successful injury free season. Troublesome hamstring seem to be the bane of many a GAA player’s season, accounting for as much as 17 – 25 % of all GAA injuries at inter-county level. Recent research suggests that appropriate “pre-habilitation” and conditioning may be the secret to successful remedying of those recurring hamstring problems. What better time to start than on those dark winter nights?
The majority of hamstring injuries occur in the 2nd half of matches suggesting less than adequate pre-conditioning or rehabilitation from previous injuries. Invariably, hamstring injuries are non-contact in nature and occur just as the foot of the injured leg strikes the ground usually running at high speed. The muscle is acting eccentrically to slow down hip flexion at this time and the player usually pulls up quickly, is unable to weight bear on the injured leg and characteristically reaches back to grab their hamstring.
Since the hamstrings are usually acting eccentrically when they’re injured it’s not surprising that eccentric loading is currently being touted a as an effective form of rehabilitation for recurring hamstring problems. Eccentric loading focuses on forcing the hamstring muscles to work hard while they’re lengthening. That means they’re acting to slow down the rest of your body weight in a fashion such as they’re forced to do during matches as you run. This is a highly specific form of rehabilitation tailored specifically at the rehabilitation of chronic and recurring hamstring injuries. Simply building up the hamstring by doing reps and reps of hamstring curls is unlikely to have the same benefit as this merely trains the concentric (muscle shortening) action.
For a demonstration of an effective eccentric rehabilitation programme for chronic hamstring problems and for further information click on the video clip and don’t forget to include adequate conditioning and stretching as part of your pre season training this winter.