Belfast Telegraph

Little wonder cruciate ligament injuries are rife in GAA

By Declan Bogue

Two years ago, a report claimed that 39 players per month were being struck down by cruciate ligament injuries.

In 2011, 470 cruciate injuries were registered with the Player's Injury Scheme, in order to claim back the insurance to help with the operation costs. The total payout was €8million.

The reason for the prevalence of this particular injury is the subject of much speculation.

Many theories have been ventured about the causes, including the types of surface (artificial and sand-based pitches were once cited as a common link), and the types of footwear players are using.

One Ulster club, St Patrick's Donagh, even went as far as banning their players from wearing 'blades' on the sole of their boots after they lost a number of players to the curse of the ACL, including county player Eamonn Maguire.

On RTE's 'League Sunday' round up of the weekend GAA action, they routinely praise in their commentary and analysis the determination and dedication of players to come back from multiple ACL injuries, such as Cork's Colm O'Neill, Kerry's David Moran and Derry's Eoin Bradley.

However, too many players suffer this fate, and the subsequent inevitable mood slumps thereafter in transitioning from being a healthy, active athlete to a man in recovery.

A year ago, Dutch fitness expert Raymond Verheijen claimed that, "nine out of every 10 ACLs can be avoided" shortly after Theo Walcott suffered that fate.

Quite a few players who are recovering or coming back from cruciate injuries, such as Paddy Bradley and Colm O'Neill for example, are very vulnerable to another ACL injury in the short term.

Verheijen claimed that: "A top fit player recovers from the game after 48 hours.

"But a player who is not top fit takes 72 hours to recover. So a less fit player is more susceptible to injury.

"The main reason why an ACL happens is that the knee is temporarily unprotected when the player turns or leans.

"Normally, your muscles contract to stabilise the knee and nothing happens.

"Over the holiday period when players play so many games and have accumulated fatigue, their nervous system slows down and the signal from the brain to the muscles gets slower.

"Then when they make explosive movements, the signal arrives a millisecond too late, the player leans or turns with an unprotected knee and the ACL just snaps."

Verheijen made his claims in relation to full-time soccer professionals, who train in the morning and rest all afternoon and evening.

When you add a full-time job in, then no wonder our players are fatigued.

No wonder they are falling foul to this epidemic.

Belfast Telegraph

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