Strategies to enhance performance in gaelic football players by reducing the risk of injuries

Newell, Micheál (2011) Strategies to enhance performance in gaelic football players by reducing the risk of injuries. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Attempts to implement dedicated evidence-based sports science research in Gaelic Football are challenging. Current structures within Gaelic Football render the sport less conducive to research analysis. The tenet that all Gaelic Footballers “are born not made” still has its adherents in today’s management circles. Atavistic attitudes to sport scientific experimentation persist. This doctorate dissertation seeks to address important issues that have the potential to maximise performance in Gaelic Football. The underlying theme of this thesis is to understand the prevalence and aetiology of injury, and the provision of researched suggestions designed to enhance performance.

The first study is a detailed prospective epidemiological study of injuries sustained by Gaelic Football players during a single competitive season (Newell et al., 2006). The design of the study was based on Van Mechelen’s (1992) model of ‘sequence of prevention of sports injuries’. To date there has been no prospective epidemiological study of injuries in Gaelic Football. Two of the main findings arising from the injury surveillance study were the high incidence of hamstrings injury and the frequency of injuring occurring in the final quarter of training and games (Newell et al., 2006).

As a follow-up to the initial injury surveillance study (Newell et al., 2006), the next phase of study focussed on the aetiology of hamstrings injuries and in particular to investigate if hamstrings muscle strength or functional hamstrings/quadriceps ratio (H:Q ratio) is a predictor of hamstrings injury in Gaelic Football.The linear regression model fitted to the functional H:Q data identified two players as potential hamstrings injury candidates, one of whom sustained a hamstrings injury during the playing season. A subsequent intervention programme aimed at reducing the incidence of hamstrings injury was devised but team managers were generally unwilling to embrace an intervention as they did not wish, as they saw it, to interfere with components which were essential for player preparation.

Dehydration is a recognised risk factor for injury, although the direct evidence linking dehydration and injury has not been established. The goal of the next phase of research was to investigate the fluid and electrolyte balance of individual elite (Newell et al., 2008) and club Gaelic Football players and devise personal hydration strategies, as a means of controlling the potential impact of dehydration while prospectively recording injuries.

The two hydration studies (conducted in warm and cool conditions) have shown that changes to pre and post training body mass (using weigh scales), assessing pre-training hydration status (using a refractrometer, and reagent strips), and monitoring of the amount of fluids consumed during training (individualised drinks bottles) can help determine individual hydration requirements. The results of both studies indicated: a wide variation in sweat rates and fluid and electrolyte balance, evidence of pre and post dehydration, and that a single hydration strategy, based on published guidelines, is unlikely to be suitable for an entire team. Conducting regular testing during varying environmental conditions will help to establish a routine for fluid intake for all situations. Both studies provide support for an enlarged dedicated epidemiological research study to provide direct evidence linking dehydration to injury. However a study of this magnitude would require the full support of the Gaelic Football Association.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gaelic Football, Sports Injury, Dehydration
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Q Science > QP Physiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Supervisor's Name: MacFarlane, Dr. Niall and Grant, Dr. Stan
Date of Award: 2011
Depositing User: MR Micheál Newell
Unique ID: glathesis:2011-2966
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2011
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:02

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