Rugby is not a delicate sport and not for the faint-hearted. Renowned for throwing players around the pitch in the form of fast-moving tackles, blows to the head resulting in cauliflower ears, dislocated limbs and numerous other traumas to the body, it is safe to say that it is one of the most injury-prone sports played. With the rugby season well underway in Tokyo for the 2019 World Cup, we thought now would be an appropriate time to discuss the most common injuries we see at ALO Clinic and how to prevent or treat them.

Dislocated Shoulder

Topping our list is a dislocated shoulder and one of the most frequent rugby-related injuries. Rugby players often dislocate their shoulders during a tackle, an awkward fall or direct impact from a blow. It is the part of the body used to control a tackle or scrum and helps the players to reach out and grab each other and the ball. Dislocation of the shoulder is a painful injury and needs to be treated quickly to prevent any further damage. 

Although sometimes dislocation can’t be helped due to the nature of the game, injury can be prevented by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint particularly the lats which can be trained using pull-ups and deadlifts. However, keeping flexibility and range of motion is key to not overworking the muscles and joints. If you do suffer from a dislocated shoulder your physiotherapy treatment may include the following: An assessment of the injury, followed by rehabilitation exercises to stabilise the joint i.e. mobilisation and functional alignment; taping to reset the shoulder, and sports specific drills to strengthen and support the rotator cuff.

Torn ACL

A torn ACL can seem like the end of the world if you’re a keen rugby player. Pain is inevitable and recovery is slow, however, the injury is very common as a result of impact to the knees, sudden stops and changes in direction. Knee injuries can be prevented if the muscles remain strong and flexible. Exercises should increase muscle power, balance and improve core stability, for example squats, walking lunges and broad jumps.

Physiotherapy treatment for a torn ACL may include the following: An assessment of the knee, rehabilitation exercises to normalise the range of motion, increase strength, and regain functional stability and improve balance.

Neck Strain or Whiplash

Neck injuries are a frequent occurrence whilst playing an unpredictable sport like rugby. Forwards are more prone to neck injuries because of their prominent position within the scrum in which pressure is applied to the neck. Neck strain or whiplash is caused by a forward, backward or sideways jolt to the neck. To prevent these types of injuries the muscles around the neck need to be strengthened with isometric exercises for the deep neck flexors, such as creating resistance using your hand and pushing your head against it.

Physiotherapy treatment for neck strain and whiplash could include: An assessment followed by manual therapy and or Tecar Therapy to decrease muscle spasms. This may be followed by spinal segment mobilisations which will reduce pain and allow movement to be re-established for function.

Sprained Ankle

Usually caused by the ankle twisting inwards a sprained ankle is a very common injury for a rugby player. Rugby is tough on the feet and a sprained ankle can happen while running up the pitch, tackling a player or scrummaging. Strengthening exercises can help prevent injuries to the ankle such as heel raises which will increase the strength of your calf muscles and balancing exercises on a wobble board can provide extra stability. Wearing the right footwear is also very important to prevent a sprain and wearing an ankle support if the ankle is weak and prone to injury.

If you are suffering from a sprained ankle your physiotherapy treatment may include: An assessment of the ankle, followed by rehabilitation exercises to help restore movement, and taping or bracing to give the ankle more support during recovery.

If you have an injury from playing rugby and would like to be seen by a physiotherapist to speed up your recovery process, please give us a call on 0207 636 8845 to find out how we can help you.