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The SISM Blog

Aidan O’Shea – Overcoming Osteitis Pubis

By SISM Clinic | In SISM Blog | on August 21, 2014

Aidan O’Shea is Mayo’s All-Star midfield/centre forward.  Having burst onto the scene in 2009 at the tender age of 19, scoring goals for fun under John O’Mahony, Aidan has gone on to become one of the most feared and revered all round footballers in Gaelic football, earning himself an All-Star for his outstanding performances for Mayo in the 2013 All Ireland football series.  A big man with a big future, we at The SISM Clinic are honoured to work with such a talented and hardworking athlete.

Aidan O'Shea

Aidan O’Shea – Overcoming Osteitis Pubis

In April of 2012 after Mayo’s last league game versus Kerry in Tralee I was unable to get myself off the pitch without a helping hand from my team mates. It was at this stage I realised that my body was telling me that enough was enough, and I needed to stop playing through my injury which I had been carrying for over a year at that stage. I called into Martin in The Sports Injury and Sports Medicine Clinic after that game as he had advised me throughout the previous year when I was struggling with the injury and valued his opinion highly and he had worked with many others who had a similar problem to me. First things first, Martin diagnosed my problem as severe inflammation of my Pubic Bone which is known in the sports medicine world as Osteitis Pubis and is highly debilitating injury when trying to play Gaelic Football. There is varying degrees of the injury and from what I know now I was at a fairly severe stage. To explain just how debilitating the injury is and was for me I will give you a few examples of how it affected me on a day to day basis. In the morning I would struggle to manoeuvre myself out of my bed due to high pain levels. If I was to sit down and try and stand up and again pain would shoot from my pubic bone. Trying to sit into a car and worse again trying to get out of a car was a killer for me. In a sporting sense after playing a game I would take at least 3 days post game to start feeling a little better spending lots of that time in bed due to the pain. When playing it would be sore to run and kicking was the worst of all the pain and due to the injury I have realised now that I had actually changed the way I kicked the ball to try and reduce the pain on myself.

Aidan O'Shea v Donegal

I had given myself a 15 weeks of a window to get back from the injury as that was the length of time to the first round of the Championship against Leitrim but Martin had me warned that that was a ambitious.  We set that as a target date and both decided to work as hard as possible to meet this date. The first thing Martin did was indicate that no rehab was going to be possible unless we got the high levels of inflammation out of the pubic bone area. This meant dropping my training load to nil and sitting in ice baths and cryotherapy baths twice a day for 3 weeks along with physio and manipulation from Martin 3 times a week. This was a frustrating and painful time as I was unable to do any physical activity and as you can guess I got pretty sick of ice baths. After 3 weeks of this Martin started to work on flexibility which he felt was a issue contributing to my problem because I wasn’t very flexible and never had been. This was a really tough programme which I aimed to do twice a day to help improve my flexibility. This definitely worked and was easy to see the results of the programme and at this stage heading towards 3/4 weeks of nearly no workload the inflammation and pain was down to a 3/4 out of 10 instead of 9 out of 10 at the start. This was all hugely positive for me and good for my mental state as I could see that I was making improvements and going in the right direction. After working hard on my flexibility and Martin seeing good improvements, he then gave me a program to work on my core strength and core stability along with a program to work on glute activation. These programmes were done on a daily basis and as you can imagine they weren’t the most exciting and were very long drawn out programmes but needed to be done to help get back on the pitch and get back playing.

The last step in process was The Running Team which Martin has in his SISM clinic in Castlebar where they teach and correct a person’s running technique to make it more efficient and effective and increase your performance, while most importantly for me reducing the prospect of injuries.

The Running Team Modules

The way I was running back then was putting a ferocious amount of pressure on my groins to do the work when running and not using the larger muscles such as my glutes. This resulted in a major overhaul of my running technique and the results were hugely evident as Martin recorded me at the start and at the end.  After I finished the programme, I was able to transfer the work from my groins and hip flexors to my glutes which is the key to anyone when running. This was major issue for me because the way I was running was contributing to my inflammation and putting huge pressure on my groins. Aidan O'Shea v Tyrone Although working on running technique was mainly to prevent pressure on my groins there was performance benefits as well, as it increased my speed and my ability to run longer distances because I had become a more efficient runner. I started to correct my running on a Treadmill to start and when Martin felt I had made sufficient progress I made my first appearance back onto the training pitch after 13 weeks away from it.   Yes, the lungs got a bit of a shock, but the body was very good. After this I started to introduce twisting and turning to the straight line running. My first full session back was the Wednesday night before the Leitrim game which was too late to be considered for the first round but I was delighted to be back on the pitch playing and being part of the group again having been away from the lads for 14 weeks. As stated from the start it was ambitious to make it back in time for the Leitrim game but having won that game it gave me 3 weeks to get ready for the Connacht final against Sligo. I was obviously way behind aerobically compared to the other lads and had a lot of catch-up to be done. I was disappointed not to start in the Connacht final but was delighted to be able to come on and make a timely impact kicking a point and inevitably winning the game by two points.

Aidan O'Shea v Sligo

That was a great day as it felt all the hard work and dark days over the past 3 months had paid off and after that game I text Martin to tell him I couldn’t have got to that day without him. He worked tirelessly with me to get me back and I remember a couple of nights leaving SISM clinic past 11 o’clock at night. So I am really appreciative and grateful for all the work he put in with me. I started my first game for Mayo on the bank holiday weekend in August against Down and we won in a facile victory but was great to be back in the team and in Croke Park. That was the All Ireland quarter Final and we continued on to get to the final only to lose to Donegal. But I firmly believe that without Martin I would have missed the whole year.

Aidan O'Shea v Dublin

If I was to pick two steps which I felt made a massive and lasting effect on me it would be the Glute activation programme which I still incorporate into my strength and conditioning programmes and of course The Running Team which has had a massive effect on me and resulted in people noticing a huge changed in the way I move.

Aidan O’Shea (@Aidoxi)

4 Comments to "Aidan O’Shea – Overcoming Osteitis Pubis"

  • conor Sheehan says:

    March 31, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply


    Very interesting to me as I have just been diagnosed with the condition, attending a specialist at the Beacon for it.
    Age 6o, very fit all my life, best thing done was the bangor Trail in Mayo in dreadful conditions.#
    Need to get back!

  • Rob says:

    May 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I am a marathon runner that has had issues with this condidtion Since October 2014. Not done a tap since Early December, I am doing a PT program to help correct the issue etc, but seems to flare a lot when just doing normal stuff like Cutting the Grass!! any specific exercises that anyone felt were crucial to overcoming this condition I would love to hear it as im coming to my wits end!!

    1. Mike says:

      December 7, 2017 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Rob,

      I’m curious to know how you’re feeling now. Are you back to running?

  • Mary says:

    January 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I am a 65 year old female and have osteitis pubis for 8 months now not improving .could you tell me the name of theBeacon clinic c specialist mentioned above

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