• Bronwyn Tagg

Hypnotherapy for Hamstring Injuries?

Owen Gemell has been training with Danny for almost a year and joined him in a recent podcast to talk about his Parfournen Journey. Throughout the podcast he refers to his experience with head coach Danny as “life changing”, in his prep for when rugby restarts. Having played for British teams such as Southend Saxons, as well as southern Hemisphere teams in New Zealand, he’s “been around the block”.

Why did Owen jump on board?

Owen was in fact, one of the very first clients that Danny worked with, making him an original Parfournen athlete, and we are so pleased to have helped this committed and forward-thinking athlete take the next steps in this career. Owen suffered a hamstring injury just over 2 years ago, seriously affecting his balance, strength and running style – and along with it, his mentality towards himself and his sport. He tried everything; physio, PTs, 9 week rehab programs and hypnotherapy…. But “nothing clicked”.

Yes you heard right – Owen was so frustrated with his injury that he tried hypnotherapy!

Now, hypnotherapy can and has been used to treat sports injuries in the past, in relation to pain management and dealing with the emotional impacts of injury such as not being able to play and someone taking your place in the team. Hypnotherapy can help some athletes. Owen was NOT one of those athletes, and turned to Parfournen for help, when he realised, he “would rather pay someone to give him professional help than getting told to do something that he could’ve worked out” himself.

“I would rather pay someone to give him professional help than getting told to do something that he could’ve worked out myself”

Part of Owen’s frustration came from the fact he was watching videos of himself running over and over, with no diagnosis, no improvements from the rehab programs, and the continuous sinking feeling of letting his coaches and teammates down while he was out with injury.

And that’s where we came in!

When Danny first started working with Owen in April 2020, he had bruising from his hip to his ankle – a symptom of his hamstring injury that had been with him for just over a year at this point. The major battle that Danny helped Owen overcome was the mental battle. Owen recognised a lot of the injury was “all in his head” with the maintenance of the “worry of reoccurrence” of the injury. Struggling with the pain is physical but having anxiety over the injury is a mental hurdle that Owen had to overcome as a human, before he could approach it as an athlete. In the podcast, Owen emphasises the benefit of just being able to message his coach for reassurance and guidance, which is a service that Parfournen prides itself on.

The first 8 weeks were spent doing isometric exercises, such as single leg holds for varying lengths of time, as well as smashing the upper body strength work to build then maintain that strength. Once Danny was happy with the isometric loads of the muscle, they moved onto eccentric load exercises such as RDL rapid drops. Then, only once Danny was happy with Owen’s full range of motion, did they move onto sprinting. Here we would emphasise that sprinting whilst recovering from a hamstring injury is not appropriate for everyone – but on a case-by-case basis, it can be implemented. After all, there is no better way to mimic sprinting then actually sprinting in real life. Now Owen has at least 1 sprint session in his training plan every week.

Owen’s second aim was to lose a bit of weight. To date he has lost 15kg. One of the drivers behind this goal was the heavier load on the muscle, not letting the hamstring heal, repair and strengthen. The other driver was Owen’s desire to be back in the line out as a second row, acting as an lifted player or at least one that had power in his jumps. When lockdown came about, Owen was keen to fast forward his progress and lose that weight.

How did he lose 15kg?

I have to admit, it’s by no mean magical. Owen used the MyFitnessPal to track his calories and his Apple Watch to track his activity. By tracking this data, and sharing it with Danny, he was able to form good habits and lose the weight. If you want to focus on cementing good habits, why not check out our blog here.

Eating less was “harder than it sounds” for Owen, who set his daily input goal at 2750 calories but still seemed to go over. This calorie deficit began to work when Danny suggested physically weighing his foods; “in terms of the science it’s a no brainer… and Owen is a testament to that” says Danny. Tracking calories became the key to this challenge. It became harder to cheat on the Mars Bars and having to weigh everything allows you not to guess and have a more accurate picture of the diet. Owen admits he “went a bit mental with it”, but that drove the change and helped him succeed his goal. There was no major change in what Owen was eating, he just tracked and controlled it and introduced a single morning habit. This habit was drinking a “litre and half of water straight off the bat”, helping him to start the day focused, hydrated and on the right foot.

The real take away from this podcast should be the simplicity of the training Owen completes. “There’s no magic formula, it’s basic stuff” says Danny. Despite there being no ground-breaking things, we are doing with Owen, we are doing the basics right, meaning Parfournen has been “life changing”. Owen describes Parfournen as a “professional standard of coaching for good prices… you can’t fault that” and we’re with him on that!

“There’s no magic formula, it’s basic stuff” says Danny.

Check out the podcast here!

If you want to know more about Danny's journey himself, click here.

By Bronwyn

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