Posts Tagged ‘health’

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Edel’s Journey to GREATNESS at Peak fitness and Performance Centre Longford.

With Edel’s transformation at PFP going viral she has been inundated with messages of support from members and also messages from people outside of PFP looking for advice on what she eats to get lean along with what training she was doing to get the body she wanted.


Edel has kindly wrote for a mini blog for everyone at PFP

Any fitness or nutrition Questions for Edel or coaches then please leave them below in comments section.

Take it away Edel…….

I was stuck in a rut and had been needing to start something to get into shape for weeks. I needed to get back into a good space both mentally and physically. I’d tried many shortcuts to get results before and to be honest wanted a quick fix but they always put me back to square one, if not worse than when I started. I tried the usual classes around the area but started seeing PFP on Facebook and it kept getting my attention by the loud, no nonsense approach to getting in shape.

Like starting anything new in a strange environment its very hard for us ladies especially to join something new but I knew I had to take the plunge. Several negative thoughts went through my head like..

  1. I wouldn’t know anyone there
  2. Would I be fit enough to do these training sessions at PFP?
  3. I didn’t want to go alone

So my brain was giving me all these negative feelings and telling me not go and make a change for the good but I fought the brain and got in contact with James on the PFP Facebook page who urged me to come and try it out.

I never made it in that day and he contacted me a day later again to make sure I came in or he would drag me in kicking and screaming (win Free membership here)

When I walked into PFP I was greeted by the coach and several other members who where all really nice and supportive before the session even started which put me at ease right away. I was looking at them thinking ‘God I’m so unfit I’m going to die here’ but they all started the same as me and went through what I did which was encouraging to hear.

I was dreading it and very conscious that I would be way behind everyone in the class, but the coaches simplified the exercises for me which was very personal and supportive!!!

No one judged me, everyone was so supportive and really encouraged me. Class was tough but I got through it.

I remember leaving the first class and getting into the car thinking ‘God I should have came here sooner’ and it wasn’t anything like I expected it to be and I’m definitely coming back.

One major thing that stood out for me was the buzz and friendliness about the gym and the way other members interacted with each other and motivated each other.

I started off first going to 2 classes a week and that started to build up gradually to 3/4 classes per week and now I’m going to 6 classes a week (provided my body is able and I get adequate recovery between sessions)

As for my asthma I haven’t touched an inhaler in weeks!! ‪#‎winning

So I’m going to PFP for a about 5/6 weeks and had the gym buzz going and then coach James took me in for a chat about my eating habits/nutrition and to have a look at my diet to see where improvements could be made.

His main message to me was to make small changes each week for a number of weeks and after 12 weeks I will have made a radical change to my whole lifestyle in-terms of training, eating habits and lifestyle choices.

He showed me how to live the 80/20% rule which suited me perfectly as I like to go out at the weekends with friends and family for nice food and have a few beers so that was my 20% there. (win Free membership here)

My diet has been completely transformed from what it was over a year ago and a big lesson I can give is to not worry about the small things and think about the bigger picture and how you want to get there.

–1 bad meal doesn’t make you fat as 1 good meal doesn’t make you lean—

I know for a fact if I had of woke up and decided that I’m going to completely change my diet, lifestyle and start a fitness journey all the same day I would fail and probably still be trying to find quick fixes.

Hard work and consistency is key to all this and knowing and trusting the process you are on to get you there.


So my typical training day nutrition would look like this, it changes daily with different meals and intakes of carbs, protein and fats.

-5:50am Pre Workout Banana & Kinetica Pre fuel


-8:00am Post workout – Kinetica Strawberry sundae protein shake

-8:45am 3 eggs scrambled, 2 turkey rashers, Spinach & tomatoes all cooked on coconut oil.

Drink 2/3 cups of hot water with lemon (breakfast is always prepared night before as don’t have time for cooking in mornings)

-Morning Break: 3 heaped table spoons of fage Greek Yoghurt, mix into this is 3 crushed oat cakes and chopped fruit and nuts

-Lunch: 3 egg muffins (mixed veg and bacon)) 2 crackers with cottage cheese all on a bed of spinach, onions and tomatoes

-Snack: 2x slices Homemade chocolate protein oat bread & grapes/blueberries

-Dinner: Peri Peri Baked salmon with roast veg and rice

-Snack: peanut butter & oat cakes

Supplementation list

^fish oils

^protein powder

^Vitamin D3

^pre workout

All food is cooked with coconut oil! Limiting myself to 1 cup of coffee per day and instead I’m drinking hot water with lemon/herbal teas.

Tried the koyu Matcha green tea and love it and I’m always drinking water throughout the day.

(This is just a typical day and like I said it changes to day to day but I will always have it planned ahead and know where my next meal comes from)

I’ve attached some pictures of the foods I eat for people looking for new ideas.

So many people have been emailing, texting and calling me about the results I have achieved which is great and inspiring and I hope you can take something from this mini blog I decide to write.

edel blog

Id like to thank everyone at PFP and the support of all the coaches too. Keep up the good work everyone.

Enjoy the journey and love every minute of it.

Edel x

Ps you can follow Edel on Instagram where she is forever posting pics of food and the odd selfie

Contact us on 0861677045 for more details about joining. 



One day workshop for club football players looking to train like inter county football players and get the extra EDGE!

We are putting on a 1 day only Strength and Conditioning PRACTICAL workshop for GAA CLUB PLAYERS looking to get the competitive edge while hitting the pitch in top physical condition come championship.

You will walk away from this workshop with your very own TRAINING PROGRAM to follow for 4 weeks while confident to know what your doing in the gym/pitch is right to make progression in the gym and transferring it onto the playing field. Phiily, myself and Peter will cover as much as possible to help you become better athlete. There will be a full on session for attendees do so get a fair idea of what the guys at the top are doing.

This is for players who are serious about getting FASTER, STRONGER, FITTER & POWERFUL.

We have 2 inter county players who are also top Strength and Conditioning Coaches to present at the 1 day intensive workshop.




Phily Mc Mahon (Dublin & Ballymun Kickhams) 2 All Ireland football titles with Dublin & reached the All Ireland Club football championship final in 2013 with the Mun.


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Peter Foy (Longford & Longford Slashers) Peter is one of the best athletes I have ever trained and you will be blown away by his condition he maintains during In-Season. (Often seen in our training videos)



These 2 coaches/players are both in top physical condition while having over 20 years training experience combined.

Both are also Strength and Conditioning coaches who do this for a living with various teams.
The workshop will be held in Longford in our training facility. Each player will receive a 4 week training plan to take home and will be put through a training session on the day.

Content to be covered on the day but isn’t limited.

1. Warmups/Cool Downs. What you should and should be doing for warmups to prep you for the training session ahead (foam rolling/Active release, Mobility, Dynamic Movement, Static Stretching)

2. Power Training (Plyos-bounds, hops, landing, jumping, loaded jumps, med balls, ladder drills, hurdles etc)

3. Strength Training (Barbell and Dumb-bell training you should be doing and exercise selection)

4. Speed Training

5. Conditioning to improve fitness and body composition

6. Recovery sessions (post game)

7. Nutrition/supplementation/pre game performance supplements, body fat assessments for all players.

8. Mental Preparation for games/training

9. Training Session for attendees to show how the guys at the top train

The workshop is limited with high practical content and training session for attendees and places are secured through the following link below.

We have 8 places remaining and is suitable for both female and male GAA players.

Cost: 167 Euro

Time: 10am-4/5pm

Location: Longford

Date: 7th June

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Getting to the “Core”

Core training has been a “buzz word” for some time- pilates was massive in the 90’s and early noughties , classes have sprung up in various gyms dedicated completely to “core” workouts, yet, there is still so much misunderstanding in the industry and among the general public.

Given the calibre of coaches that view this page, no doubt I am preaching to the choir. Several of you may well be more knowledgeable than me in the field strength and conditioning. However, we all bring our own unique experience to the table, and this rant is from my experience of what information is lacking in many coaches (and athletes), still, to this day.

As instructors and/or athletes, it is vital that we have a clear understanding of what core training is, in sport preparation, or just exercising for health. To many coaches, cranking out a few hundred reps of crunches or sit-ups is core training. And that’s it! However, if we are to truly prevent injury and elicit peak performance from ourselves, our athletes or students, then we must adopt a more scientific approach. So what is core training? Well, I believe everything we do in the gym, park, etc… can be core training. If we go back a few hundred years, there were no such things as specific core exercises, crunch machines, etc… The work that was done every day provided all the spine stability and trunk power necessary. Unfortunately, as we have progressed as a society, we have taken so much essential stuff out of our lives that we have needed to put replacements in, e.g. processed foods necessitate vitamin supplements. Let’s examine what we refer to by “The Core”:

Generally speaking, when we refer to the “core” we are referring to the group of muscles between the hips and shoulders, responsible for stabilising the spine and transmitting force from one end of the body to the other. The concept of stability is a key one, as is evidenced by the high incidence of back pain amongst the human population. The core muscles can be grouped according to function – tonic or phasic (also known as local or global).

Tonic muscles are involved in posture. They “brace” the body, i.e. stabilise the spine, and redistribute force that otherwise could be damaging, (that is, when they work properly.) The importance of this function cannot be underestimated. Consider shooting a cannon from dry land versus shooting one from a boat. The kick from the cannon on land is controlled much better as the force is absorbed by solid ground, as opposed to shooting one from a moving, less stable boat.

Phasic muscles are involved in the transmission of force from the upper body to the lower, and vice versa. The function is analogous to the transmission of a car. If the transmission is faulty, then even though there is power from the engine, the wheels may not be turning. These muscles are also involved in conducting the various movements possible by the hips, trunk and shoulders.

Any sport that requires power output is dependent on the athlete having enough core stability to transmit the force from the legs to the upper body. Take a boxer for example: the final power in a punch is largely dependent on how much force can be transmitted from the feet upward. If the boxer has a sloppy “core” then much of the potential power in the punch is lost.

Gray Cook (Functional Movement Systems) refers to the “soft core” and the “hard core” when discussing the tonic and phasic muscles. He explains that the “soft core” is only switched on to about 20% intensity, but is subconscious and stabilises the spine before the conscious thought of movement even occurs.

Let’s examine the layout:


The core can be considered a box or cylindrical area that is surrounded on all sides by the core muscles. In the front we have the rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus. At the back we have the erector spinae and multifidi. The internal and external obliques are at the sides. The diaphragm is above, and the pelvic floor at the base.

“Core training improves performance because “everything in your body is connected to everything else.” Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link – unfortunately, for many people, it happens to be certain core muscles. Proper core stability allows an athlete to accelerate, decelerate, change directions and quickly adjust to spontaneous loading changes. One thing is certain – core stability is essential regardless of your goals. Injury risk is decreased as a result of the stability created around the lumbar spine during extreme effort, as well as the resultant redistribution of stresses on the body.

Common Misconceptions

Just doing Crunches/Sit-ups at end of workout:

For many an athlete, core training is limited to some abdominal work at the end of the workout. This is at best holding oneself back and at worst creating an injury-risk situation. As coaches, we must constantly ask ourselves where our clients are coming from…. the car?… from work where he/she spent eight hours hunched over a computer…… school? We spend much of our lives in flexion, therefore more spinal flexion may not exactly be what is needed, but extension is often essential. or a balanced core training regime, it is necessary to ensure that the entire area is developed in a functional capacity. Also, just doing crunches or sit-ups serves to isolate the rectus abdominus. As the core muscles rarely work in isolation, it seems inadvisable to train muscles is isolation alone. Similarly it is not prudent to train e.g. two different muscles in isolation and then expect them to work together in a “real-world” situation.

“No joint or body part works in isolation. There is a constant cause effect relationship in movement between force production and force reduction. The kinetic chain is characterised by deceleration at one joint and acceleration at the next joint in the chain. Therefore it is important to train movements not muscles.” Gambetta & Gray

Abdominal hollowing:

Abdominal hollowing or drawing the navel towards the spine may not be very useful in performing extremely intense, exertive sporting movements. If you watch Olympic weightlifters – before a big lift they don’t draw in the navel and hollow the abdominal cavity. Instead they “brace.” Consider again the diagram of the core. When taking a deep breath the diaphragm moves downward. This increases pressure in the intra-abdominal cavity, as the downward pressure is resisted by the pelvic floor musculature. As the abdomen is tensed or “braced”, the pressure is pushed back into the spine providing a great amount of support for the spine.


Training in only one plane

Many core exercises, e.g. crunches, glute bridges, reverse crunches work only in the sagittal plane (forward/backward). However we live, perform, compete in a three dimensional world. Therefore, our training if is to be optimal, must also demonstrate three-dimensional properties. The other two planes are frontal (coronal) and transverse.


Core training should encompass exercises that involve truck flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation.

Balancing The Load.

One of the best ways to improve core stability is to introduce “offset loading” into a programme. This involves carrying a greater load in one arm than the other. For example, an athlete doing lunges while carrying 10Kg in one hand and 4kg in the other is demonstrating an offset of 6Kg. To avoid losing lateral balance, the obliques and QL’s experience greater activation to keep the trunk upright. Try doing a dumbbell bench press with only one dumbbell at a time, to see the core activation you experience to avoid rolling off the bench.

Thanks for the guest blog from Shane Fitzgibbon.

Check out Shanes’ website, he also has a great training book which we use a lot here. profile pic


The life of an intern in the world’s strongest gym

Written by P.J. Dundass

Week 1

“Walk like a man- Welcome to Westside Barbell”

“Are you Irish?”

“Yeah…. That’s me” I respond hesitantly.

“Then get in” shouts a guy parked outside my motel with a hoodie over his head.

It’s 7 a.m. and just 10 minutes ago I was contemplating what clothes to wear for more time than I care to mention. My only instruction heading into today’s session was “Don’t dress like a faggot, I’m serious, and yeah… Just don’t be a faggot in general”. I am on my way to Westside Barbell.

Westside Barbell is a small invite-only gym located in Columbus Ohio where you must be invited or meet elite status before you even dare to ask whether or not you can train here. It is renowned as the STRONGEST gym on this planet.

As soon as I set foot in the door it suddenly hits me, this place is RAW. Immediately, I am told to throw my bag wherever the hell I like, if it gets stepped on, all its contents are crushed, tough luck man. I turn and inquisitively cast my eye on this room I am in. This is the breeding ground for the boogy monsters you used to be warned about before going to bed, just now in power-lifting form.

I start warming up before the big guys get here. My training partner is Joe, one of the other interns, the hooded man as described above. He has told me to get my technique right on the box squat before the guys get here, otherwise be ready for a world of complete interrogation.

It’s now 7.45 a.m. and I see everyone coming in. In walks the man who is the master of ceremonies of this arena.

I say to myself that I figure I’ll get the 500 pound elephant out of the room right off the mark via introduction. Being a wise or foolish smart ass opening, I say; “Hi my name is P.J. and I am the guy whose balls you’ll be breaking for the next few months” Staring me dead in the face, this man swiftly and bluntly replies “I don’t break balls… I COACH”.

This coach is Louie Simmons


Louie Simmons is arguably the greatest strength and conditioning coach of all time. Louie is deemed by the general world of strength training to be the “Godfather” of powerlifting.

His achievements with a range of powerlifters speaks for itself-

  • The Westside Barbell team have broken more than 100 world records, including 4 out of the 5 top totals, and four of the top 10.
  • He has trained the highest all time totalled male and female powerlifters in Dave Hoff and Laura Phelps the pound for pound strongest man and woman on this planet.
  • No gym in the world has more than one person who has totalled over 2800lbs, Louie has FIVE.
  • Additionally he has trained two Olympic gold medal sprinters and a UFC heavyweight champion amongst others.

A pretty mean résumé right?

Louie himself is one of only five lifters in the history of the sport to gain elite status in five weight classes and currently the only person over the age of 50 to deadlift 722lb (327Kg), squat 920lbs (417Kg) and bench 600lbs (272Kg) (I put Kgs there because I know how us Europeans add up our weight, no need to Google convert it, I got our asses covered).

What the hell does Louie do to train his elite ensemble of athletes? It is all based around a system called The Conjugate Method.

The Westside conjugate method is the combination of two highly developed and complex training systems: The Soviet and the Bulgarian systems. It essentially is a multi-faceted system whereby there is a rotary motion of connected specialized movements and exercises which are related strongly in make-up to one another.

This system involves a 4 day a week training system utilizing a training schedule split into both lower and upper body days. These days are the deadlift/squat and bench press days thereby training all 3 of the power-lifts.

Westside’s training plan is more distinctive in that it may be broken down into two further groups based on two of the three main methods utilized: The maximal effort method and the dynamic effort method- An example of a typical training week is detailed below.

  • Monday- Maximal effort method- Squat/Deadlift
  • Wednesday- Maximal effort method- Bench Press
  • Friday- Dynamic effort method- Squat/Deadlift
  • Saturday- Dynamic effort method- Bench Press

“The three methods can be defined as”

  1. THE MAXIMAL EFFORT METHOD = “Lifting a maximal load against maximal resistance” therefore “should be used to bring forth the greatest strength increments”.

Aim = Increasing absolute strength and strength speed

  1.  THE DYNAMIC EFFORT METHOD = “Lifting a non-maximal load with the highest attainable speed”.

Aim = Increasing the rate of force development and speed strength

  1. THE REPETITION METHOD =“Using considerably less than maximal resistance until fatigue causes one to fail”

Aim = Increasing work capacity and strengthening up muscles which make up the anatomical structure of an activity
(Zatsiorsky, 1995)


I will be delving into these training methods, looking at their individual purposes and utilization on athletes from my own experience over the next 8 weeks.

My first week using the conjugate method produces interesting results. Training on my first day, being the maximal effort day for the squat/deadlift hits full impact on my walking to work on Wednesday. This impact is so much so that I leave my apartment 2 hours earlier than necessary to walk 45 minutes to Westside and home again. This is pain has yet to subside while writing this; I am broke up from my first week.

During my first week in Ohio I come across this area in Columbus where a Dayton sign looms over the highway about 30 minutes from my apartment. In this area there is this big stretch to walk on in the middle of the road and cops constantly have people pulled over. When I walk this with heavy legs, I get to take that step back, realizing that there is no way better to combat weakness than with strength. Although the walks are a test in themselves, learning what pushes you to the limit and what you are really made of is truly character building.

The term “Walk like a man” originates from a Sopranos episode whereby two of the shows younger characters are acknowledging the fact that they have bigger dues to pay and must rise to an occasion bigger than themselves in the mob. This, consequently meaning they could be dead or alive unless they choose wisely. I too may have only begun my journey and am similar to those two characters in that I am a beginner. But the biggest similarity we share? I would rather be dead than average. Right now I am walking my line every-day… Are you?


P.J. Dundass is an aspiring Irish strength and conditioning coach originating from Connemara, Co. Galway. He is a recent graduate from The Waterford Institute of Technology having completed a Bachelor of Business (Hons) degree in Recreation and Sport Management. He is currently completing an 8 week internship in Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio.

The Cruciate Curse

This year Cork All-Star Colm O’Neill confirmed his third cruciate injury, once again fuelling the public interest in this severe injury. In the English Premier League, cruciate injuries continue to make headlines with players such as Martin Kelly, Andy Johnson and more recently Sandro Ranieri all undergoing cruciate reconstruction surgery this season.

No other injury garners more media attention, with high profile players side-lined for at least 6-9 months.  It is a huge blow for the athlete, eliminating them for the season, and is often associated with negative psychological responses of anxiety, fear and sometimes depression.

Cruciate injuries are more common in sports that involve high speed, sudden, rotational movements. Recently there have been claims of a “cruciate curse” and reports of an epidemic of this injury in the GAA.  It might be more helpful to athletes and coaches if we can sort fact from fiction and have a look at; why this injury occurs, who is most is risk, who is most at risk of re-injury and if there is anything we can do to help prevent this injury occurring. We will also make a comparison across certain sports where the incidence of cruciate injury is higher than in the general population.

What exactly is the cruciate?


We actually have two cruciates, in both knees; the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and the PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament). An ACL injury is the one we hear all about, as injury of the PCL is generally managed without surgery, just rehab exercises. These ligaments give your knee its integral stability, with your ACL stopping your shin bone moving forward on your thigh bone.  Below is a picture of a flexed right knee with the kneecap removed. You can see the ACL lying in front of the PCL like a cross, hence the term cruciate.

Historically it was a career ending injury but due to surgical advances, the ACL can now be reconstructed, giving athletes the opportunity to return to sport after surgery and a lengthy rehab which varies from 6-12 months.

How is the ACL injured?

50% of ACL injuries are non-contact, in a knee-in toe-out position, with your body pivoting above it, and the knee buckling inward. The force generated through the knee joint becomes too much for the ACL ligament to withstand and it ruptures. Michael Owen demonstrates it classically in the video below…

In sports such as American Football and Rugby however, the more common mechanism of injury of the ACL is through direct contact in a tackling situation. ACL injury can also occur when the knee is forcefully extended or on sudden deceleration.

Does every ACL injury require surgery?

Those with a partial tear of ACL i.e. a minor degree of ligament injury, and no functional instability can sometimes continue to play but may possibly require surgery down the line.

For those with a full ACL tear and an ambition to return to field sports, surgery is generally your best option. With surgery you are at a greater risk of early onset osteoarthritis, but this is somewhat dependent on amount of meniscal and articular cartilage damage in the initial injury.

Who is most at risk of ACL injury?              

ACL injuries are more common in sports that involve high speed, sudden, rotational movements. Sports with a higher risk of ACL injury include Soccer, American Football, Basketball, Rugby, Aussie Rules, GAA, and Skiing.

Female athletes are 2-8 times more likely to have an ACL injury, argued to be related to;

  1. Landing strategies that place greater load through their knees

i.e. landing with a more upright posture, less knee flexion, greater quad to hamstring ratio, and increased knee-in position

  1. A larger angle from the hip to the knee
  2. Hormonal changes that can decrease the inherent strength of ACL
  3. Smaller anatomical attachment for the ACL

Athletes with a reconstructed ACL (those who have had ACL surgery) are at a much greater risk of ACL injury, on both the operated and non-operated knee, than those without a history of ACL injury. Up to 25 % of athletes with reconstructed ACLs go on to have a second ACL injury within 6 years.

Gaelic football shares numerous similarities with Aussie Rules which allow for some comparison with their injury data. A large study on Aussie Rules footballers over 8 seasons found the past ACL reconstruction was the strongest predictor of another ACL injury. Within the first 12 months post ACL reconstruction, their athletes were at a 10 fold increased risk of ACL injury. Beyond 12 months they were still at a 4 fold increased risk, in both their operated and non-operated knees.

Can we predict who is most likely to get a second ACL injury?

A second ACL injury seems to be strongly related to individual biomechanical abnormalities and movement asymmetries.  This means how well you co-ordinate and control your movement as you jump, hop and land. One study found that compensatory strategies in the opposite hip, on landing, were the primary predictor of risk in athletes who went on to develop a second ACL injury. Recent research has also provided us with four measures to help predict who is most likely to re-injure their reconstructed ACL.

The American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at predictors of failure rate after ACL reconstruction in 206 subjects over 2 years. There was a 13% graft failure rate with a higher rate of failure in those of; younger age 19-25, earlier return to sport (222 Vs 267 days), higher BMI and return to high risk sports.

We don’t have enough baseline data on re-rupture rate in GAA but across other sports ACL re-injury rate appears to be equal, suggesting that a second ACL injury may be more individually specific than sport specific.

Does the type of graft used affect re-rupture rate?

There is no difference in terms of ACL re-injury rate of hamstring vs patellar tendon graft. However, there is a difference between autograft (graft from your own body) Vs allograft (donor graft), with a higher rate of failure in those younger than 20 years who receive an allograft.

Is it possible to decrease your risk of ACL injury?

Yes. There is mounting evidence that those partaking high risk sports can decrease their risk of ACL injury, by regularly completing a series of warm-up programmes that encourage neuromuscular training and balance activities. FIFA and Women’s soccer associations have led the way in ACL prevention programs. Ideally we need to be able to identify those most at risk of injury and then target prevention programs at these athletes.

Do blades on your boots increase your risk of ACL injury?

There is conflicting evidence in relation to blades versus studs and associated injury risk. Blades were originally designed to offer more stability to the support foot in kicking in soccer, made famous in the mid-90s by a certain David Beckham. Due to their claims and some evidence of them giving more grip on the playing surface it has been argued that they can contribute to injuries.

A study on 15 professional soccer players comparing two types of both studded and blade soccer boots found no significant difference on knee loading. Increased knee loading forces have been indicated as a risk factor for knee and ACL injuries.

There is one study that looked at numerous top level European soccer surfaces and found that blades were associated with significantly higher rotational torques than studs, on natural grass only. Authors reported the studs were “probably safer” however these results must be interpreted with caution as it was a laboratory study, showing blades were associated with higher torque values but no correlation was made with injury prevalence.

Does the playing surface or weather conditions affect your risk of ACL injury?

Research, again from Aussie Rules injury database has found a significant increase in ACL injury rate in weather conditions associated with a drier playing surface; specifically a higher water evaporation rate and lower rainfall. However this research finding might not have as much applicability to Irish weather and GAA pitches…

It gets a bit more complicated and speculative when we look at pitch surfaces and artificial versus natural grass. Specific to ACL injuries, a study on natural grass surfaces in Australia found fewer ACL injuries on Rye grass surfaces compared to Bermuda grass surfaces.

Increased rotational torque has been identified as a small possible risk factor for lower limb injury but not specifically for ACL injury. A study on football turf used for top-level European soccer showed that football turf without infill showed significantly lower frictional torques than natural grass, whereas football turf with sand or rubber infill had significantly higher torques. But again, this was laboratory testing only and not specific to injury incidence, just related to one of the factors that is sometimes associated with lower limb injury. Clear as mud.

ACL injuries per sport

Below is a table which compares the percentage of ACL injuries in a given sport relative to all injuries in that sport. There are many issues with comparing sports injury data; however it does give us an indication of ACL injuries compared to all other injuries in that sport. Ideally we would like to compare injury incidence per 1000 player-hours, separated across match and training hours but as of yet that data is lacking.

Table 1. ACL injuries as a percentage of all injuries in a given sport
Female Gymnastics 4.9%
Female Basketball 4.9%
Female Soccer 3.9%
American Football 3-3.5%
Aussie Rules 2%
GAA (male only) 1.5%
Men’s Basketball 1.4%
Men’s Soccer 1.3%
Rubgy 0.5%

As discussed, ACL injury is not unique to the GAA. If you play a sport that involves high speed, sudden, rotational movements, then yes, you are at a higher risk of ACL injury than the general population. However, the risk of ACL injury should not be seen as a deterrent for sports participation as the benefits of sport far outweigh the risks!

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like more information or advice on this topic.

Michelle Biggins

Chartered Physiotherapist


Thanks to Michelle for guest blogging for us.

Coach James