RFU reveals how exercise can reduce risk of injury

The injury risks of youth rugby have received much attention in recent years, in particular, the risks of concussion have been widely discussed. In a bid to reduce injury in sport the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the University of Bath have conducted The School Injury Prevention Study.

The three study conducted from 2013 to 2016, shows the beneficial impact the newly-devised exercise programme had in reducing overall injuries within youth rugby. It was the first study of its kind in a contact sport and has since been described as a benchmark for studies of this kind.

The study which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found overall injuries fell by 72% when players completed the newly devised exercise programme at least three times a week, either pre-match or before training. Concussion injuries were also reduced by 59%.

Concussion in contact sports has been a talking point for a number of years, in 2013 we covered an article published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology called Effects of multiple concussions in contact sports.

The RFU, who commissioned the study, are now set to roll out the findings across all levels of the community game. They are also developing training resources for clubs, schools and coaches.

Dr Mike England, the RFU Community Rugby Medical Director said, “We invested in this ground-breaking study as part of our commitment to player welfare. It is a key step in our systematic approach to injury prevention.”

“The results are impressive and we hope that a related study showing similar effects in the adult community game will be published soon,” he concluded.

New training and pre-match exercise programmes were developed as part of the study. It focussed on balance, strength and agility in order to better prepare players for any physical challenges they may face in matches and mitigate any potential injury risks.

The exercise session which takes about 20 minutes to complete is compiled of:

  • Running warm-up with change of direction activities (2 minutes)
  • Lower limb balance training (4 minutes)
  • Targeted resistance exercises (8 minutes)
  • Jumping, side-stepping and landing exercises (6 minutes)

Professor Kevin Stokes, who led the study from the University of Bath explained, “Over recent years injury risk in youth rugby has received much attention highlighting the importance of establishing new, evidence-based injury reduction strategies.”

“Our results are exciting because they show that carrying out a simple set of exercises on a regular basis can substantially reduce injuries in youth rugby. We believe these findings will have a significant impact in helping to improve player welfare, making the game safer for young players to enjoy.”

Source: England Rugby

For more information check out the Handbook of Neurological Sports Medicine which presents techniques for diagnosis and treatment of head-related injuries to enable medical professionals to provide the best care possible.

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