Hurling – Injury Prevention and Strengthening the Hamstrings

Hi folks, my name is Simon Kelly. I am an Irish physiotherapist practicing out of the Cambie Village Insync Physiotherapy clinic located on Cambie and King Edward.

Today is just a short blog on injury prevention and strengthening of the hamstring in Gaelic games.

The hamstring is by far the most injured area of the lower limb in Gaelic sports. The hamstring and quadriceps are an antagonistic muscle pair, meaning they work together in harmony to perform controlled smooth movement for locomotion. 

The reason the hamstring is injured so frequently is because these muscles: 

1.  Cross both the hip and knee joints (biarticular joint). They extend the hip and bend the knee. They are made up of three muscles----semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris.

 2. There is a work rate ratio of 3:2---the former being the quadriceps and the latter being the hamstring.

3. The hamstrings fire at the start of swing phase to bend the knee and they fire again at the end of swing phase to control the leg as it moves into knee straightening --- this controls the leg before heel strike. The later being the most reported hamstring injury phase during sprinting and directional changes.

Risk factors --Muscle tightness, muscle imbalances, poor conditioning, muscle fatigue:

Some injury prevention tips for the hamstring muscles:

  1. Muscle tightness:---Dynamic stretching ---far more important than static stretching. Drills must always be dynamic pre game.---the more you simulate play the better
  1. Muscle imbalances: Hamstring strengthening should be a major part of every Gaelic teams strength and conditioning program with particular emphasis on the eccentric phase of training  (lengthening of a muscle under tension)

Nordic hamstring curls---slow on the way down (eccentric) and quick on the way up (concentric contraction)

Nordic hamstring curls with a ballistic/ more dynamic type alteration --fall forward let you hands touch the floor and push up  

  1. Poor conditioning. If your muscles are weak (core/lumbar/hamstrings), they are less able to cope with the stress of exercise and they are much more prone to be injured.

Lumbar/core & pelvis stability are high on my list of gym exercise programs for GAA players: A stable base allows the extremities to work much more efficiently without compensatory patterns occurring. Think of a sailing ship mast or a tree trunk, everything stems from the strong core or middle section-simple.

  1. Muscle fatigue. Fatigue reduces the energy-absorbing capabilities of muscle, making them more susceptible to injury.
  2. Nutrition and hydration 

Tune in soon for wrist strengthening and torso rotation strengthening exercises which are all vital components in the hurling grip and swing.