Rugby is a high impact sport which sees no shortage of injuries. Although overuse injuries such as tendinopathies are common in rugby, more common are traumatic injuries that occur due to the nature of the sport.
We take a look at some of the most common injuries that occur in rugby, and some tips for prevention.
Ankle sprains commonly occur when changing direction or running on uneven ground. Lateral ankle sprains are the most common, and occur when the ankle rolls outward, causing the sole of the foot to turn inwards. This forces the ankle out of its normal position and causes damage to the surrounding ligaments. Ankle sprains range in severity, from a stretch of the ligaments in minor sprains, to a tear in serious sprains.
A physiotherapist may suggest preventative taping or bracing, new strength and conditioning exercises and assess your footwear to help prevent the risk of re-injury.
Preventative programs, involving strength and proprioceptive (balance) exercises, can be implemented in to your training program with the aim to reduce the risk of ankle sprains and can include exercises such as single leg calf raises, single leg squats and single leg hop and lands (forwards, backwards and side to side).
Head injuries and concussions
Concussion can be defined as a temporary disturbance of the brains normal functioning, resulting from a blow to the head or neck, from either indirect or direct contact. Find out more about concussion in our blog here.
Sprinting and kicking at high speeds is typically the cause of hamstring injuries in rugby. They can range in severity from a mild strain through to a tear and recovery time will depend on this. Strengthening of the hamstrings can help prevent the risk of injury, and one of the best exercises for the this is the Nordic hamstring exercise. Make sure introduction of such exercises is graded to ensure you don’t overload the hamstrings. It is important to see a health professional for appropriate management, and to ensure you are not at risk of re-injury going forward.
MCL (medial collateral ligament, on the inside of the knee) injuries typically occur from the knee buckling inwards, most commonly from the contact of a tackle. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury, with the more severe cases needing surgery.
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries generally occur when the foot is planted on the ground and the knee rotates while in a bent position. They are generally a non-contact injury but can occur with tackling. Rehabilitation of ACL injuries is often a long process. You can reduce your risk of ACL injury by introducing an ACL prevention program in to your routine under the supervision of a professional. Examples include: Netball KNEE program, FIFA 11+ program.
Shoulder dislocations commonly occur during tackles, tackling with an arm elevated and during falls on the shoulder. After a professional gets the dislocated shoulder back in to place, rehabilitation may involve immobilisation, and a gradual program that will aim to restore shoulder strength and full range of motion. Surgery may be required for certain injuries.
A groin strain typically refers to a strain of the adductor longus muscle. They commonly occur due to change in direction, as well as sudden changes in acceleration or deceleration. All cases are different and need to be assessed individually, and treatment will depend on the severity. A gradual introduction of running, progressing to sprints and change of direction as well as strengthening exercises can be prescribed by a professional to get you back on track. Copenhagen exercises for groin prevention can be used to help prevent groin strains and help strengthen the hip adductors.