Rugby| How to prevent injuries in rugby
Whether you've just started out in rugby or have been playing for years, there's one question that keeps coming up: How to prevent injuries? We give you our advice.
If you think that you're never going to get injured playing rugby, then think again. Rugby is a contact sport and every part of your body is exposed to injury. It is important, therefore, to take care in protecting yourself to minimise the risk of injury as much as possible. With that in mind, we are going to look at the parts of the body that are at risk and give you some advice on preventing injuries.
1. THE POSITION OF THE HEAD WHEN TACKLING
To begin with, we are going to focus on protecting the head. It comes under particular strain during tackles. To protect against concussion, players need to learn to position themselves correctly. It is important to engage the shoulder on the opposing player's thighs and lower body while ensuring the head does not come into direct contact with the opponent. You should then wrap your arms around the player's legs, with your head positioned to one side of your opponent, in contact with them but not taking part in the impact itself.
2. THE NECK, THE FOCAL POINT OF SCRUMMAGING
Moving down the body we come to the neck. Generally speaking, it is the front rowers who suffer the greatest strain on this part of the body. The pressure exerted during scrums and in heavy tackles can lead to injuries. To prevent neck injuries, it is important to strengthen it, engage in neck exercises and prepare this part of the body in training and pre-match warm-ups. Building up the trapezius muscle and the upper back area is an essential part of preparing players.
3. THE SHOULDERS
The shoulders come under strain on the numerous occasions players come into contact with each other: tackles, clear-outs, scrums and rucks. It is important to avoid dislocations and fractures when falling and making direct contact with opposing players. Several exercises are recommended, especially ones involving proprioception. They are designed to work on the strength, stability and suppleness of ligaments and muscles to ensure the body is better able to withstand heavy blows. We suggest a range of weight-training exercises.
4. THE HANDS, YOUR WORKING TOOL
Your most important tools in rugby are your hands! Such is the nature of the game that they are exposed and are at risk of being trodden on, which can lead to fractures. Fingers and wrists play a direct part in the game and are prone to sprains. To limit these injuries, it is very important to work on fingers and wrists before matches through small individual drills. Wrists can also be built up with weight-training exercises that can be performed in the gym. You can also strap them up for added support and protection during games.
5. THE LOWER BODY
Dead legs are a common occurrence in rugby. They happen when the thigh suffers a direct blow and the muscles are contracted. Protective undershorts are a good way of cushioning blows during matches.
Then there are muscle injuries such as contractures, tears and pulls. These injuries generally occur when muscles are hyperextended. Inadequate warm-ups are often the cause. Muscle fatigue or a lack of hydration are also contributing factors in muscle injuries.
Knee ligament injuries can also occur after a heavy fall or a direct impact but tend to be less frequent. With a view to reducing the risk of sprains and ligament ruptures, it is important to work on your suppleness, strengthen the muscles in your legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles) and work on the proprioception of your lower limbs. Taking on water regularly is also vital.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF WHEN PLAYING RUGBY
There is a chance that despite our advice you'll still end up getting injured. With just that eventuality in mind, we've written an article detailing how to treat injuries while also reminding you to go and see a health professional if the injury doesn't clear up.
We'll give you all our advice so you can protect yourself as much as possible from picking up an injury during a match or training session. Don't forget that drinking water can also help prevent muscle injuries, while using the right gear will help you be ready for any match.