Injury Avoidance in Rugby: Part 1 – Preparation for Players, Clubs & Coaches
April 29, 2018 (No Comments) by Aidan Raftery

There is a misconception that Rugby is a dangerous game. It is of course a physical game, but when the right skills are used properly, it is safe. With that in mind, like any other sport most players are at different stages, be it Underage, Junior, Professional, Club or International level. However, one common factor is that the vast majority will get injured at some point in their career.

As a Sports Injuries Therapist, I worked with a local Rugby team in Bristol and treated various injuries when working for the club. We are going to take a detailed look at the best methods of preparation, before and after a player goes onto the pitch as well as the impact an injury can have on both club and coach.

Best Practice For Pre-Match Injury Avoidance

There are many ways you players can avoid or reduce the chances of getting injuries before a match. Every player needs to look after themselves between games. This applies to players from all levels from Junior to senior and 1st team at amateur, professional, club and International level.

best-practice-for-pre-match-injury-avoidance

It is important that players train well but between games when or if training on their own, outside of training sessions they must factor in recovery to allow the body to rest. This is important at Junior/Amateur level as players tend to do training in their own time. This may include going for a run/jog or a gym session. These are good too for strength and conditioning but limit to once or twice a week this is to prevent fatigue.

Strength, Conditioning & Sleep

If a player is into keeping fit, have a training session with the squad one day, a recovery the next day this could be going for a swim or a walk or a light jog the next day do gym work. At professional level, club and international players have strength and conditioning coaches, physios, nutritionists etc players train daily and  players are given a personalised plan regards running, gym sessions nutrition plans recovery plans etc.

strength-conditioning-sleep

The night before it is essential to get to bed early and get a good nights sleep. This enables a player to be relaxed and focused during the game. The player will be better able to take in information from the coach and other staff involved in the team as well as fellow players. A players eating pattern on the day of training is essential as well.

What to Eat

In the morning for breakfast have cereal or porridge or a boiled egg and toast and orange. At lunchtime, a full meal potatoes, vegetables and meat such as chicken would be best for maximum energy.

healthy breakfast

If you prefer to have something light then a chicken salad is also a good option. Other alternatives are a sandwich in wholemeal brown bread or a thick chicken/ veg soup with brown soda bread. Obviously avoid takeaway food such as burgers, chips and pizzas etc. These have very little energy or nutritional value.

Final Preparations

On match days players can be nervous or tense about games or carrying niggles, aching muscles etc. It’s essential these are seen to before the match. A sports massage or support strapping will help but it is essential to keep the team physio or Sports Injuries Therapist informed of all injuries, niggles, or muscle strains.

A pre-match warm up is an essential part of match preparation. This gets the blood circulating around the body and warms up the body. This is essential before games every day but especially on a cold day. Stretches are essential as well to stretch ligaments and tendons for the rigors of a game. These are simple but help a lot.

For players who suffer from hamstring niggles or wrist, ankle or knee problems it is important to wear support or have the team Sports therapist do strapping for these before the game. Warm ups and stretches also apply to training as well as matches. Check out the video above to see some warm up exercise for rugby which can be worked into a regular routine.

Best Practice For Post-Match Injury Avoidance

Post-match is very important as players may have muscle aches and pains. As we mentioned already, it is important to warm up, but it is also important to warm down after a game as well. Below we can see an example of post-match cool down for rugby players.

Pre-match stretches are usually inter changeable with post-match stretches as well. Other treatments which are available for continuing niggles include a post-match massage, an ice bath or hot bath in Epsom salts which are great for aches as it helps to relax the muscles.

Managing a Concussion Injury In Rugby

In parts two and three of this series, we will focus on upper and lower body injuries in rugby. However, one injury which can’t be overlooked is the concussion, as it is one of the most common injuries in rugby. A concussion is not a position specific injury as in it is not specific to any one player or players position.

ar-sports-therapy-clinic

It can happen to any player in any position. To take an Irish case, there have been many occasions where Leinster and Ireland fly-half, Johnny Sexton, has suffered serious concussions. One of the most devastating of these came at the hands of Mathieu Bastareaud when Ireland took on France in the 2014 Six Nations in the Stade de France.

A concussion is caused by an impact to the head, due to a clash of heads between two players or another part of the body such as knee or foot. Basically, a high impact blow to the head. It is where, on impact the brain shakes in the skull. When a player gets a blow to the head it is essential that it is attended to straight away.

How to Test For Concussion

There are a number of ways for checking to see how serious the concussion is. A head injury is not to be ignored or taken lightly. Ask the player to answer the following questions and complete certain tests to get as much info as possible;

  1. Ask the player where they are, what day it is, who they are playing and what the score is.
  2. Get the player to stand on one leg, then the other. This tests the players balance.
  3. Assess vision by shining a light in the players eyes and checking for dilation.
  4. Ask the player if they have any blurred or double vision.
  5. Hold up one finger and get the player to follow the finger from side to side, then up and down.
  6. Ask the player how many fingers you are holding, try varying between, 2, 3 or 4 etc.

These are the main (but not limited to) symptoms of Concussions. Further Symptoms are listed in the Return to Play Protocol. If there is a problem with one or more of these areas, it is essential that the player goes to hospital to get checked out.

Return to Play Protocol

As part of the Return To Play Protocol rules and regulations, an adult player with a rugby concussion needs to be out for 21 days, 6 of which are Graduated Return To Play days. For U6 to U20 this is a bit longer, with a young player between those ages to be out for 23 days, 8 days of which are Graduated Return to Play days.

return-to-play-protocol

During this time, the player, either Adult or underage is not permitted to train or do any physical activities. The player needs full rest. As time goes on in the Return to play Process, the player can do exercises like walking or cycling but this must be supervised by a suitably qualified person. Returning to training and fitness as well as games are stepped up gradually. More information and guidelines are available on the return to play protocol.

Consequences For Not Abiding by Return To Play Protocol

If the player returns earlier than is laid out in the Return To Play Protocol, they are putting themselves at further risk. This is due to the fact that the player cannot be classed as fully ready until all phases have been completed.

injury-avoidance-in-rugby-part-1

The player, team, coach and club are not fully insured or covered if the player returns too early. The player, coach and club are only covered once the recommended time has passed as stated in the rules of the Return to Play Protocol.

From all of these tips, we can see that there are lots of factors to consider when managing injuries in rugby, not just on and off the pitch. By following these guidelines and reading the rest of our series, players and coaches can give themselves the best possible change of injury avoidance in rugby.

About the Author – Aidan Raftery

Aidan Raftery is the 1st Team Sports Injuries Therapist for St Peter’s FC of Athlone and Team Sports Therapist for the Ireland senior 6 a-side football squad. Aidan has years of experience and has worked with GAA, Hurling, Soccer and Rugby clubs in both Ireland and the UK. As a Sports Injuries Therapist and Massage Therapist, Aidan is a member of the Irish massage and Bodyworks Association and can be booked for appointments at his private practice in Roscommon.

sportsview-on-rosfm

Check out the AR Sports Therapy Clinic business page to see a full list of opening times and learn about the packages available to suit a variety of clubs. Be it multiple bookings, once off matches or training sessions, Aidan can provide professional support in the long term or short term for both club and player.

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Injury Avoidance in Rugby: Part 1 – Preparation for Players, Clubs & Coaches
April 29, 2018 (No Comments) by Aidan Raftery

There is a misconception that Rugby is a dangerous game. It is of course a physical game, but when the right skills are used properly, it is safe. With that in mind, like any other sport most players are at different stages, be it Underage, Junior, Professional, Club or International level. However, one common factor is that the vast majority will get injured at some point in their career.

As a Sports Injuries Therapist, I worked with a local Rugby team in Bristol and treated various injuries when working for the club. We are going to take a detailed look at the best methods of preparation, before and after a player goes onto the pitch as well as the impact an injury can have on both club and coach.

Best Practice For Pre-Match Injury Avoidance

There are many ways you players can avoid or reduce the chances of getting injuries before a match. Every player needs to look after themselves between games. This applies to players from all levels from Junior to senior and 1st team at amateur, professional, club and International level.

best-practice-for-pre-match-injury-avoidance

It is important that players train well but between games when or if training on their own, outside of training sessions they must factor in recovery to allow the body to rest. This is important at Junior/Amateur level as players tend to do training in their own time. This may include going for a run/jog or a gym session. These are good too for strength and conditioning but limit to once or twice a week this is to prevent fatigue.

Strength, Conditioning & Sleep

If a player is into keeping fit, have a training session with the squad one day, a recovery the next day this could be going for a swim or a walk or a light jog the next day do gym work. At professional level, club and international players have strength and conditioning coaches, physios, nutritionists etc players train daily and  players are given a personalised plan regards running, gym sessions nutrition plans recovery plans etc.

strength-conditioning-sleep

The night before it is essential to get to bed early and get a good nights sleep. This enables a player to be relaxed and focused during the game. The player will be better able to take in information from the coach and other staff involved in the team as well as fellow players. A players eating pattern on the day of training is essential as well.

What to Eat

In the morning for breakfast have cereal or porridge or a boiled egg and toast and orange. At lunchtime, a full meal potatoes, vegetables and meat such as chicken would be best for maximum energy.

healthy breakfast

If you prefer to have something light then a chicken salad is also a good option. Other alternatives are a sandwich in wholemeal brown bread or a thick chicken/ veg soup with brown soda bread. Obviously avoid takeaway food such as burgers, chips and pizzas etc. These have very little energy or nutritional value.

Final Preparations

On match days players can be nervous or tense about games or carrying niggles, aching muscles etc. It’s essential these are seen to before the match. A sports massage or support strapping will help but it is essential to keep the team physio or Sports Injuries Therapist informed of all injuries, niggles, or muscle strains.

A pre-match warm up is an essential part of match preparation. This gets the blood circulating around the body and warms up the body. This is essential before games every day but especially on a cold day. Stretches are essential as well to stretch ligaments and tendons for the rigors of a game. These are simple but help a lot.

For players who suffer from hamstring niggles or wrist, ankle or knee problems it is important to wear support or have the team Sports therapist do strapping for these before the game. Warm ups and stretches also apply to training as well as matches. Check out the video above to see some warm up exercise for rugby which can be worked into a regular routine.

Best Practice For Post-Match Injury Avoidance

Post-match is very important as players may have muscle aches and pains. As we mentioned already, it is important to warm up, but it is also important to warm down after a game as well. Below we can see an example of post-match cool down for rugby players.

Pre-match stretches are usually inter changeable with post-match stretches as well. Other treatments which are available for continuing niggles include a post-match massage, an ice bath or hot bath in Epsom salts which are great for aches as it helps to relax the muscles.

Managing a Concussion Injury In Rugby

In parts two and three of this series, we will focus on upper and lower body injuries in rugby. However, one injury which can’t be overlooked is the concussion, as it is one of the most common injuries in rugby. A concussion is not a position specific injury as in it is not specific to any one player or players position.

ar-sports-therapy-clinic

It can happen to any player in any position. To take an Irish case, there have been many occasions where Leinster and Ireland fly-half, Johnny Sexton, has suffered serious concussions. One of the most devastating of these came at the hands of Mathieu Bastareaud when Ireland took on France in the 2014 Six Nations in the Stade de France.

A concussion is caused by an impact to the head, due to a clash of heads between two players or another part of the body such as knee or foot. Basically, a high impact blow to the head. It is where, on impact the brain shakes in the skull. When a player gets a blow to the head it is essential that it is attended to straight away.

How to Test For Concussion

There are a number of ways for checking to see how serious the concussion is. A head injury is not to be ignored or taken lightly. Ask the player to answer the following questions and complete certain tests to get as much info as possible;

  1. Ask the player where they are, what day it is, who they are playing and what the score is.
  2. Get the player to stand on one leg, then the other. This tests the players balance.
  3. Assess vision by shining a light in the players eyes and checking for dilation.
  4. Ask the player if they have any blurred or double vision.
  5. Hold up one finger and get the player to follow the finger from side to side, then up and down.
  6. Ask the player how many fingers you are holding, try varying between, 2, 3 or 4 etc.

These are the main (but not limited to) symptoms of Concussions. Further Symptoms are listed in the Return to Play Protocol. If there is a problem with one or more of these areas, it is essential that the player goes to hospital to get checked out.

Return to Play Protocol

As part of the Return To Play Protocol rules and regulations, an adult player with a rugby concussion needs to be out for 21 days, 6 of which are Graduated Return To Play days. For U6 to U20 this is a bit longer, with a young player between those ages to be out for 23 days, 8 days of which are Graduated Return to Play days.

return-to-play-protocol

During this time, the player, either Adult or underage is not permitted to train or do any physical activities. The player needs full rest. As time goes on in the Return to play Process, the player can do exercises like walking or cycling but this must be supervised by a suitably qualified person. Returning to training and fitness as well as games are stepped up gradually. More information and guidelines are available on the return to play protocol.

Consequences For Not Abiding by Return To Play Protocol

If the player returns earlier than is laid out in the Return To Play Protocol, they are putting themselves at further risk. This is due to the fact that the player cannot be classed as fully ready until all phases have been completed.

injury-avoidance-in-rugby-part-1

The player, team, coach and club are not fully insured or covered if the player returns too early. The player, coach and club are only covered once the recommended time has passed as stated in the rules of the Return to Play Protocol.

From all of these tips, we can see that there are lots of factors to consider when managing injuries in rugby, not just on and off the pitch. By following these guidelines and reading the rest of our series, players and coaches can give themselves the best possible change of injury avoidance in rugby.

About the Author – Aidan Raftery

Aidan Raftery is the 1st Team Sports Injuries Therapist for St Peter’s FC of Athlone and Team Sports Therapist for the Ireland senior 6 a-side football squad. Aidan has years of experience and has worked with GAA, Hurling, Soccer and Rugby clubs in both Ireland and the UK. As a Sports Injuries Therapist and Massage Therapist, Aidan is a member of the Irish massage and Bodyworks Association and can be booked for appointments at his private practice in Roscommon.

sportsview-on-rosfm

Check out the AR Sports Therapy Clinic business page to see a full list of opening times and learn about the packages available to suit a variety of clubs. Be it multiple bookings, once off matches or training sessions, Aidan can provide professional support in the long term or short term for both club and player.

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