With the football All-Ireland approaching this weekend, lets have a look at injury prevention in GAA. Regardless of what type of exercise you are doing, be yoga or tennis, it’s important to get a good warm up especially for injury prevention.
There has been a big focus on injury prevention in GAA in the recent years, due to the high levels of injuries. Research from the National GAA Injury Database reported that:
- Two-thirds of players get injured and 1/3 have more than one injury in any season. One quarter of injuries are recurrences of existing or old injuries
- Over 75% of these injuries are lower limb injuries.
- Approximately ⅔ of these injuries are non-contact related i.e. sprinting, landing, twisting, plant/cut movements.
With these injuries and mechanisms of injuries in mind, the GAA Medical, Scientific and Welfare Committee in conjunction with UCD Physiotherapy Department, created the “GAA 15”.
The main aim of the GAA 15 warm up is to prevent lower limb injuries. The warm up is based off the FIFA 11+ programme, designed to improve mechanics associated with lower limb injuries.
There has been extensive research into the biomechanics of non-contact injury in sport and one risk factor which has been identified is poor neuromuscular control in the player. I.e. the body’s ability to stabilise, correct, control and withstand the forces demanded in the course of training and play. Evidence shows that neuromuscular control can be trained thus helping to reduce the risk of some injuries.
The GAA 15 was tested in 4 college teams (2 hurling and 2 football) in already trained players. Half undertook the GAA 15 injury prevention programme – the drills were practiced twice a week at the start of training and incorporated into pre-match warm up – and half continued with regular training over an 8 week period.
- Two key outcomes that have been associated with injury risk were assessed:
1. Dynamic balance, i.e. the ability to control balance on one leg while reaching out to the extremes of stability with the other (assessed using the Y Balance Test)
2. Landing mechanics (assessed using The Landing Error Score System(LESS) Test).
- The testing found no adverse reactions to the GAA 15 and significant improvement in the LESS Test.
Independent research carried out by Schlingermann et al have also reported a reduction in injury rate from use of the GAA 15 programme.
- Participants completed preseason and postseason testing. The GAA 15 programme was used for the intervention group; coaches were instructed to implement the program before every training session and match throughout the season. The control group adopted their normal warm-up procedures for the season. The players’ injuries were documented on a weekly basis by allied health care professionals working with the teams using an online database system.
- Injury rates in the intervention group (2.62 injuries per 1,000 hours) were reduced by 66% (p = 0.001) in comparison with the control group (7.62 per 1,000 hour). Training injuries, hamstring injuries, noncontact injuries, and severe injuries were also reduced as a result of the implementation of the GAA15 (injury rate ratio: 0.20, 0.59, 0.39, and 0.45, respectively).
The GAA15 programme is roughly 15 minutes long, consisting of 3 different elements which focus on:
- Lower limb exercises
- Sport-specific drills.
For video instructions of the GAA15, have a look here
Like any motor skill, players need to PRACTICE consistently and have good form. If they don’t, the benefit declines.
Schlingermann et al J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Jul;32(7): Effects of the Gaelic Athletic Association 15 on Lower Extremity Injury Incidence and Neuromuscular Functional Outcomes in Collegiate Gaelic Games.