It is impossible to predict injury accurately, and indeed you could do everything right, and still end up on the casualty list. However, there are certain signs that you can look out for as alarm bells to an oncoming injury. This is where proper GAA strength and conditioning can really come into its own. If you notice the following symptoms, you can act immediately, and prevent a potentially season ending injury.
1. Loss of Mobility
If you find that you have gradually lost mobility in a joint, for example in your ankle, hip, or shoulder, than you should sit up and take heed! You may have built up an imbalance in the joint, or maybe you are training so much that you have started to neglect your mobility work a bit. It may be time to dedicate more time to some gentle mobility work or a massage to resort the joint function.
2. Feeling Heavy on Your Feet
When you are out on the pitch, and you are feeling sluggish, this can be a warning sign that all is not well. It can be a real sign of over-training and under-recovering. If it is just a once off you could bounce back from it with little repercussions, but if you are feeling like this for consecutive sessions then its time to pay attention. Pull back on the reins and give your body time to adjust to the training stress it has been under.
3. Being Constantly Tired
Like #2, feeling a bit tired the day after a big game is normal, but feeling tired for a few days in a row is not. If you have over-reached in your training for too long, and not give your body a chance to adapt, eventually your body will accumulate fatigue from subsequent training sessions. When it gets to this stage, it really is time to give your body a break. Failure to do so can lead to injury, and reduced enjoyment and success in your chosen code, and who wants that?!
4. Loss of strength/ explosiveness
If you find your strength decreasing, or your vertical jump getting lower and lower, then you should have a look at the training load that you have had in recent weeks, as well as the amount of stress and pressure you have had in your personal/ professional life. The combination of a heavy training load, and substantial pressure outside of sport can wreak havoc with your gym numbers. One a more serious not that simply not being able to lift as much weight, this can be a real sign that your body is starting to break down a bit, and you should pay attention to it. Pull back on those extra sessions for a week or two, and spend more time on recovery sessions, massage, foam rolling, or low intensity skill work.
Remember that even though you may be doing the same training as some of your teammates, everybody responds to training differently. When there is more stress in your personal/ professional life, it can be a good idea to pull back on the physical work your are doing in training, especially during championship season. Similarly, if you have a few weeks off work/ college, this can be a good time to edge your training load up slightly. If you are making adjustments to the training load, increase with small increments. A big jump can have drastic consequences for your energy levels!
This Article is by ACLAÍ Owner, Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS. Ainle is strength and conditioning coach for the Cork Senior Football team, has worked with Adelaide Crows Football Club in Australia, lectured in the University of Limerick PE and Sports Science Department, contributed to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and also works as a tutor with Strength and Conditioning Institute, Setanta College.
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