Common Rugby Injuries Ahead Of The Six Nations

The Six Nations brings together the best Europe has to offer, with the home nations welcoming France and Italy into the frame for one of the years most exciting and action packed tournaments.

Rugby is one of the more popular sports in the UK with 159,000 people playing Rugby Union at least once a week in 2013; a further 53,500 took part in Rugby League. However the number of people involved in rugby decreased from the previous year. One of the reasons for this may be the extremely physical nature of the sport.

Some of the most common muscle based rugby injuries noted in professional rugby between 2002 and 2012 were:

Thigh haematoma

A haematoma is an accumulation of blood, in this case within the thigh muscles. The symptoms include inflammation of the area which can be quite painful as well as reducing mobility.. They are prevalent in rugby due to the high level of contact, particularly in tackling when the shoulder collides with the thigh. Following initial diagnosis of a haematoma in the thigh it is important to apply ice to the area, elevate the leg, apply compression to the area and rest.:

Rest – this is relative to normal function, once the pain has lessened enough to move the limb then it should be mobilised.

Ice – the use of ice is proposed to reduce blood flow and ease the pain and swelling.

Compression – it has been shown that compression can aid in reduction of the swelling by reducing blood flow in the muscle. Compression Shorts are one way to achieve this.

Elevation – as with ice and compression it is proposed that elevating the leg can aid with reducing the swelling.

Heat, ultrasound and exercise can be prescribed by a physiotherapist to continue the recovery.

Hamstring muscle injury (excluding haematomas)

The hamstring group of muscles are responsible for bending the leg at the knee and bringing the thigh to a ‘standing position’ and beyond. Healthy hamstrings are essential for sprinting and jumping activities. Overstretching the muscles or even tearing them during exercise can be extremely painful and debilitating. Following the RICE principle is advised in the early stages of recovery. Proper strengthening exercises and correct warm up procedures will help to avoid damage to the hamstrings.

Calf muscle injury

The calf muscles act to lift the heel and allow forward propulsion. As with all muscles they can become damaged, either from continuous overuse or from a sudden stretching or trauma. The severity of the strain can range from tightness and slight pain after the activity to a complete rupturing of the muscle; this will cause a sudden stabbing pain and an inability to walk without pain. Initial rest is recommended but a return to light exercise should occur as quickly as possible. The best form of treatment rest, allowing the muscle time to heal naturally, though ice and elevation can help to reduce inflammation.. Surgery may be required where there is a rupture of the muscle, requiring it to be stitched back together before intensive physiotherapy to strengthen the muscle..

What are compression shorts?

This article focuses on areas of the body where compression shorts can be used to aid rehabilitation following injury to the hamstring and thigh, so here is a brief bit of information about what they are and what they do.

The shorts provide compression to the thigh, gluteal, hamstring and groin areas and work to protect the muscle following injury by reducing muscle vibration and maintaining alignment to enhance athletic performance. They also work to enhance endurance of the athlete by minimising unnecessary movement thereby reducing wasted energy.

Compression shorts can be worn both as a post injury solution but equally as a preventative measure to enhance performance as described above through minimising the strain on the muscle groups.

Final Thoughts

Muscle based rugby injuries can be very frustrating for amateurs and athletes alike as no one likes to spend time on the sidelines. The majority of these injuries are self-limiting and you should expect to recover following a period of rest though the use of physiotherapy and sports braces can help to speed up your recovery following injury. If you are ever unsure as to the severity of an injury then you should seek a professional diagnosis.

Dave Regis discusses the use of orthotics for the management of rugby injuries, reviewing injury rehabilitation through exercise and the use of bracing. He writes focussing on the use of compression shorts along with other methods of rehabilitation.

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