Five simple exercises help to prevent rugby injuries Public
(17 May 2017) LEADIN:
British researchers say they've developed a specially designed exercise regime which shows rugby injuries can be reduced by up to 70 per cent.
The UK's Rugby Football Union (RFU) is now urging schools to roll out the programme nationwide in an effort to tackle injury prevention and avoid concussions.
Rugby is known as a full-blooded contact sport, but here at the University of Bath the aim has been to make the game considerably safer.
These community rugby coaches are passing the ball down the line in a traditional training exercise... but they're here to learn a new way to warm up before a big game.
The University of Bath, alongside the RFU, has devised a new exercise programme capable of reducing overall injuries by 72 per cent, according to its study published the School Injury Prevention Study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Involving 40 schools and nearly 2,500 rugby players between the ages of 14 to 18, the study discovered that when the teenagers completed the exercise programme three times a week overall injuries declined dramatically and concussion injuries were reduced by 59 per cent.
Professor Keith Stokes, Professor of Applied Physiology, University of Bath says: "All sports have some risk of injury so what we were trying to do is find a way to reduce the risk of injury, specifically in schoolboy rugby players and what we found was doing a series of exercises that involved balance, strength and landing and changing direction in a controlled way, reduced injury risk both in terms of muscle type injuries, but also importantly concussion and head injuries, by a substantial amount."
The exercises themselves are not radical - mostly involving balance, gentle strength control exercises and changes of direction.
The routine takes about 20 minutes to complete and in total there are 80 different exercises which are divided across a number of sessions.
The programme includes a running warm-up with change of direction activities for two minutes; lower-limb balance training for four minutes; targeted resistance exercises for eight minutes; plus jumping and landing exercises for six minutes.
Physiologically the professor can't say what precisely is changing in the body as a result of the exercise programme and will conduct more research in the future to discover this.
"So we don't know exactly what is changing inside the body, this study was designed so we could understand whether the exercises worked and future work will be trying to understand what changes. We know that it will have something to do with the activation of specific muscles and making sure the right muscles are working at the right time but we need to do more work to demonstrate that," says Professor Stokes.
The RFU is so convinced of the new methods that it is rolling out the programme across its community game in England.
Dr Mike England is the Medical Director of the RFU and is here to oversee the first wave of training for the RFU's regional community coaches.
Broken collar bones and noses might be the more dramatic end of rugby related injuries but according to Mike England of the RFU, they only account for a tiny proportion of the injuries.
The RFU carried out a simultaneous study looking at the frequency and types of injuries sustained in teenage rugby matches and the more serious fracture injuries occur only once in 58 games - which is about once every four years for a typical school rugby season.
Much more common are the sprains, strains and concussions which this regime directly tackles.
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