The majority if not all GAA players don’t think twice about mobility because they are uneducated about it but many GAA players have their own form rollers these days so this is actually a stepping stone because if you tie-in soft tissue mobility with range of motion mobility everything will come together. So all GAA players out there, you should be spending just as much time and effort on mobility of Ankle, Hip & Shoulder Joints just as you do with strength exercises if not more time spent on mobility!
“First Move Well, Then More Often” (Gray Cook)
Mobility …why don’t all GAA teams place more emphasis on it?
The question is… how many GAA players have ever heard of mobility??? My guess is only a handful of players are aware of mobility and only a select few understand it. I can hold my hand up myself and say that this was me last year, I didn’t understand mobility and I never seen the benefits of it because I wasn’t educated about it. That has all changed for the better not only am I more mobile in everyday life but my athletic performance has improved immensely. One thing that you can be sure of after reading this article is that you will be aware of mobility and why everyone needs to start mobility sessions; it not only excels your athletic performance but it gives you that sense of confidence in everyday life because you feel mobile and you can move more and who doesn’t want that? Mobility equals Injury Prevention so let’s begin today by becoming more mobile because no one ever wants to be injured, do they?
How I came to learn about the importance of mobility as a GAA player…
Working alongside Ainle O Caireallain (Cork Senior Football S&C Head Coach) & Ciaran O’Regan at ACLAÍ Health & Performance has opened my mind to a whole new level of strength and conditioning with athletes and individuals. Mobility Mobility Mobility, that’s what it is all about, everyone needs to take care of their movement patterns before they begin to even think about lifting weights, Many people who train are fixated on one question, guess what it is? “What do you bench?” training isn’t about the bench it’s about becoming stronger overall. The human body is made to move, not to be stiff and sore so why don’t people move? At the beginning of the article there is a statement by Gray Cook “First Move Well, Then More Often”. If an individual is aware of his/her body mechanics during exercise they begin to control their motor patterns better and more efficiently. My previous experience of working with GAA players on a weekly basis made me aware of a lack of mobility amongst them. The majority if not all GAA players will struggle to sit in a deep squat position and hold their feet and sit in that position for a prolonged period of time, this is a huge indicator of the lack of mobility they have and if you asked them to sit in this position for 2 minutes when they stand up the adductor muscles & groin on the inside of the upper legs begins to ache, why is this? It’s because the hip flexor muscles are doing all the work in trying to maintain that position and keep them in a deep squat position. To resolve this problem with hip flexor tightness an athlete should work on stretching out this hip flexor each morning
What should GAA players look to work on?
Ankle range of motion (ROM) is a huge area which needs to be worked on in all sports especially GAA players because of the constant twisting and rotation of the lower limbs when turning for a ball or landing from jumping and wanting to change direction quickly. A lack of ankle ROM will cause incorrect tracking of the knee which will lead to knee valgus, what’s that you may ask? It’s when the knee moves toward the direction of the midline of the body. Knee valgus load during sports movement is viewed as an important predictor of non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injury risk (McLean et al, 2005) Formulating movement strategies that can reduce knee valgus loading during movements therefore appears pertinent to reducing ACL injury risks especially in movements such as quick change of direction and landing in GAA players. Here at ACLAÍ we place huge emphasis on knee stability throughout movements for example when an athlete is performing a squat movement all you will hear is “Back straight, knees out, knees out” knees out on the way down helps the knee perform proper mechanics and helps injury prevention. Dr. Kelly Starrett, founder of ‘Mobility WOD’, suggests that a great exercise to see if someone has full range of motion of the ankle is the Pistol Squat or Single Leg Squat if a person is said to be able to perform this squat unaided it’s a sign that he/she has full range of motion of that ankle joint.
So in order to achieve full range of motion of the ankle, one should begin by working on opening up the ROM of the joint by trying to push the knee over the toe as far as possible while keeping the heel on the ground and hold this position for 2-3 minutes. Dr. Kelly Starrett also suggests that in order to change range of motion in any joint or change the mechanics of the joint being targeted then one must remaining in a position for longer then 2 minutes in order to push the joint to its limit and get more range of motion out of it.
Kula (2013) states, “The true essence of flexibility is revealed in its relation to qualities like strength. Flexibility without strength is weak, strength without flexibility is rigid”.
If you are looking to excel your athletic performance then begin by working on your mobility not only does mobility help to open up your joint but it prevents injury and nobody wants to injured. The human body was designed to move so utilize it! If you can perform basic movements with full range of motion then you are on the right track to becoming a top class GAA player and all round athlete.
McLean, S.G., Huang, X., & Van Der Bogert, A.J. (2005). Association between lower extremity posture at contact and peak knee valgus moment during sidestepping: Implications for ACL injury. Clinical Biomechanics. 20 (8), p863-870.
Dr. Starrett, K. (2014). Foot & Ankle Webinar. Available: http://www.mobilitywod.com/livewebinars/the-ankle-and-foot-where-the-rubber-hits-the-road/. Last accessed 10-06-2014. Kula, K.J. (2013). Benefits of Structural Integration for Crossfit Athletes Competing in the “Sport of Fitness”. ISAI Yearbook of Structural Integration. p131-138.
This article was written by ACLAÍ intern, Mark Eaton. Mark is a 3rd year student of Sports and Exercise Science at university Limerick and is currently completing an internship at ACLAÍ Health and Performance under the tutorage of Ainle Ó Cairealláin (ACLAÍ owner and Head S+C Coach of the Cork Senior Footballers).
ACLAÍ Health and Performance offer a range of training programs and services for GAA athletes and teams looking to build on their athletic performance through strength and conditioning and performance nutrition. If you or your team are keen to embark on an ACLAÍ training program please submit your details to us via the form below to avail of a free consultation with an ACLAI expert.