Due to the contact and aggressive style of rugby, many injuries are acute, traumatic injuries and as such are difficult to prevent. Other injuries such as hamstring strains can be prevented by ensuring correct warm-up, strengthening and flexibility programs are followed.
Warming up is often overlooked but should be part of your injury prevention routine. A good warm will:
- Increase the temperature of muscles - they work better at a temperature of 40 degrees.
- Increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles.
- Increase the speed of nerve impulses - making you faster.
- Increase range of motion at joints reducing the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments
Warm up will not only help avoid injury but will also improve performance.
A warm-up should consist of:
- A gentle pulse raiser for 5-10 minutes to circulate blood and oxygen supplying the muscles with more energy to work with. Jogging, skipping and cycling is all acceptable forms of warm-up.
- Stretching to increase the range of motion at joints. Emphasis should be placed on stretching the muscles of the legs and lower back and shoulders.
This is also often overlooked in favor of sitting down and resting, or even heading to the bar! However, it can help avoid injuries and boost performance. The aim of the cooldown is to:
- Gradually lower heart rate.
- Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles, restoring them to the condition they were in before exercise.
- Remove waste products such as lactic acid.
- Reduce the risk of muscle soreness.
The cooldown should consist of a period of light cardio work, such as jogging or walking, followed by stretching.
There are many types of protective clothing which can be worn for rugby. These include:
- Gum shields (mouth guards)
- Scrum caps
- Shoulder pads
- Shin pads (guards)
Each player has their preferences as to which equipment they wear and this is also position dependent. For example, those involved in a scrum are more likely to wear a scrum cap to help prevent concussion and to reduce the 'cauliflower ear' effect!
Getting a regular sports massage can flush the muscles of waste products and release tight knots, lumps, and bumps in muscles that if left may cause strains and tears. It is possible for a good sports massage therapist to identify potential trouble spots long before they become injuries.
Nutrition, Hydration Injury
Proper nutrition is important. A bad diet will prevent you from recovering from training sessions making you more prone to injury. A balanced diet is what you should aim for:
- Carbohydrate is important for refueling muscles.
- Protein rebuilds muscles.
- If you become dehydrated then less blood will flow through muscles. The muscles will be more prone to injury.
- Vitamins and minerals are required for a number of reasons related to recovery.
Much of what is discussed above should be part of your sporting routine. A biomechanical analysis can help identify possible injury risks. Assessment from a sports therapist or specialist can identify weak areas and possible injury risks. A course of exercises specific to your needs can give you the best chance of avoiding injury.
Not allowing your body to recover properly from training will eventually result in injury. Your body needs time to rebuild itself stronger before the next training session. Remember - you are not training when you are training, you are training when you recover! Sleep is also an important part of your training. If you are not getting enough, get it sorted.
In the event that a sports injury does occur, having a sports insurance policy will mean you are covered for costs of treatment and lost earning!