The severity and lifelong implications of rugby related injuries has been central to press coverage this season, particularly regarding youth players and head injuries. The same can be said for other contact sports such as American Football which has also come under fire for allowing players to continue to play with head injuries and not providing enough support post-concussion.
Thankfully, the amount of injuries in youth players nationwide should reduce over the next season thanks to a research team in Bath (UK). A new pioneering exercise programme for Rugby players has been devised and has achieved staggering results including a 72% & 59% reduction in concussion and injury rates respectively.
The study took place over three years and included 2,500 14-18 year olds. The programme focuses on a series of balance, strength and dynamic controlled movements which are performed before a match and takes around 20 minutes. The plan comprises of 4 stages which are made up of:
- A 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).
These exercises are then adapted over the season, reflecting progress made in strength and conditioning.
With regard to concussion, it is thought that the exercises improve alignment and the shock absorbing ability of the neck. The programme will be rolled out in full, nationwide, in preparation for the new rugby season.
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